Flu is a contagious respiratory disease caused by the influenza virus.
There are three types of influenza virus: influenza virus A,B,C. Types A and B viruses cause seasonal epidemics in Europe almost every winter. Influenza C virus causes a mild respiratory illness and is not responsible for outbreaks. The flu can be a dangerous illness for the elderly, young children, pregnant women, or people of any age who have a chronic condition such as heart disease or diabetes. Most cases of influenza occur in children younger than 4, pregnant women, and people over 60. The source of influenza infection is the sick person, suffering from an acute or severe form of the disease. Maximum contagion occurs in the first days of illness, when the flu virus spreads intensively in the environment during coughing and sneezing.
The process of eliminating the pathogen from the sick person’s body ends in seven to ten days from the onset of the disease. Among other things, not only the patient is contagious, but also the things he uses (dishes, whitewash, etc.).
How does the flu manifest itself?
The most common signs of illness are: fever, cough, sore throat, headache, muscle and joint pain, malaise, fatigue. Flu can also be accompanied by:
- high fever;
- sore throat, pain when swallowing;
- acute headaches, especially in the forehead and when moving the eyes;
- muscle pains;
- rhinorrhea, stuffy nose;
- labored breathing;
- profuse perspiration;
- state of excessive fatigue;
- vomiting/diarrhea (especially in children).
In most cases, these symptoms improve within no more than 2 weeks. In the case of people who fall into the risk categories, complications can occur that greatly prolong the recovery period. Sometimes, the complications can be fatal.
Complications can consist of:
- sinus/ear infections;
- heart failure.
Treatment for the flu
- hydrating the body in abundance (water, teas, soups). It is not recommended to drink coffee or juices that contain caffeine and that can lead to even greater dehydration of the body;
- the consumption of foods rich in vitamin C (oranges, lemons, kiwi, pineapple, tangerines, bell peppers, broccoli), or the administration of effervescent vitamin C;
- medical devices that help the patient breathe easier (nasal spray);
- prolonged rest: sleep is one of the most beneficial natural medicines, especially in the case of infections. It is also recommended to reduce intense physical exertion;
- inhalations with essential oils of mint, eucalyptus, lemon, cinnamon
The flu is a viral disease, so antibiotics do not have a positive effect, on the contrary. Antibiotics taken in case of flu can lead to their ineffectiveness in other cases where even can be need for antibiotics (bacterial resistance). Antibiotics are recommended, in the case of flu, only if complications have been reached (bacterial pneumonia for example).
The treatment method for influenza, the most often used, consists in the administration of antiviral drugs, which alleviate or shorten the duration of the disease, but also prevent complications. These drugs are recommended to be taken soon after the onset of symptoms, and the duration of treatment varies from 5-14 days, depending on the severity of symptoms and reaction to each individual organism.
How do we protect ourselves from the flu?
The most effective method of preventing the flu and its complications is the flu vaccine. The flu vaccine is given in late fall to prepare the body for flu season. It takes 2 weeks for the vaccine to start working.