What is Influenza?
This is commonly called “the flu”, is an infectious disease caused by influenza viruses. Symptoms range from mild to severe and often include fever, runny nose, sore throat, muscle pain, headache, coughing, and fatigue. These symptoms typically begin 1–4 days after exposure to the virus and last for about 2–8 days.
Causes of Influenza:
Tis caused by a virus which attacks our body’s cells, resulting in various effects depending on the strain of the virus.There are many strains of influenza virus. The virus mutates all the time and new variations (strains) arise. This constant changing enables the virus to evade the immune system of its host. Unfortunately immunity against one strain (which is conferred by exposure or immunisation) does not protect against other strains. A person infected with this virus develops antibodies against that virus; as the virus changes, the antibodies against the virus do not recognize the changed virus, and influenza can recur, caused by the changed or mutated virus.
Typical symptoms of influenza include:
(i) fever (Usually 100° F to 103° F in adults and often even higher in children). (ii) respiratory tract infection symptoms such as, cough, sore throat, running nose, headache, pain in the muscles, and extreme fatigue.
Although nausea and vomiting and diarrhoea can sometimes accompany Influenza infection, especially in children, gastrointestinal symptoms are rarely prominent. Most people who get flu, recover completely in 1 to 2 weeks, but some people develop serious and potentially life-threatening complications, such as pneumonia.
Treatment and Control
(i) Much of the illness and death caused by influenza can be prevented by annual vaccination. Influenza vaccine is specifically recommended for those who arc at high risk for complications with chronic diseases of the heart, lungs or kidneys, diabetes, or severe forms of anemia.
(ii) The persons suffering from this should
- drink plenty of fluids
- take symptom relief with paracetamol, aspirin (not in children under the age of 16) or ibuprofen etc. as recommended by the doctor.
- Consult doctor immediately for treatment.
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