Influenza which is called as flu is a contageous infection of the nose, throat, and lungs caused by the influenza virus.It comes suddenly and causes symptoms like fever, body aches, headache, fatigue, loss of appetite, a dry cough, and a sore or dry throat.These symptoms seem to be like that of cold but these are usually more severe than cold.
The patient may recover soon, but sometimes the illness may lead to bacterial infection, such as an ear infection, sinus infection, or bronchitis.People at increased risk for complications that require hospitalization are young children, adults age 65 and older, and those with serious medical problems.
Symptoms appear 1-7 days later (usually with 2-3 days). Because the flu is airborne and very contagious, with a short incubation period, it often slams into a community all at once. The flu usually arrives in the winter months. Within 2 or 3 weeks it can be spread to the nearer ones.
The symptoms are:
These symptoms usually last for 3 to 4 days, after which you may have a dry cough, runny nose, and a sore or scratchy throat for another week or so. The incubation period which is the time from exposure to the flu virus until you develop symptoms is 1 to 4 days.
The most common way to catch the flu is by inhaling droplets from coughs or sneezes. It may spread when you touch a surface such as a faucet handle or phone that has the virus on it and then touch your own mouth, nose, or eyes.
Home treatment is enough for flu symptoms. However, antiviral medications are available to reduce the duration and severity of symptoms. These medications are especially useful for older adults and others who are at risk for developing complications from the flu. These medications need to be started within 2 days of your first symptoms. Not all antiviral medicines work against all strains of the flu.
Health professionals can diagnose influenza using the symptoms alone, especially if many cases of a similar illness have occurred in the community and the local health department has confirmed a flu outbreak. Routine testing of people who have typical flu symptoms is usually not necessary. Rarely the specific flu virus you have may be identified through a blood test or a nasal or throat swab.
We can prevent flu by getting immunized with an influenza vaccine each year. The standard vaccine, known as the flu shot is given by injection. It can be given after age 6 months to anyone who wishes to help prevent the flu. The flu shot is recommended for,
All children age 6 months to 23 months.
All adults age 50 and older.
Adults and children age 2 and older who have health conditions such as asthma, chronic heart or lung disorders, or an impaired immune system.
Women who will be pregnant during the flu season.
Close contacts (including household members and health care workers) of anyone in a high-risk category, which includes all children 23 months of age and younger.
FluMist, a live-virus vaccine in the form of a nasal spray, is an alternative to the flu shot that is now available for healthy children and adults between the ages of 5 and 49, except pregnant women. FluMist should not be given to close contacts of people with severely impaired immune systems such as those who have had a recent bone marrow transplant, to avoid their transmitting the virus after being vaccinated.