Understand the Flu
Sudden weakness, severe headaches, fever and a sore throat are typical symptoms of an influenza virus infection that appear soon after the first frosts of autumn. But how much do we really know about the flu virus and its nature? Find out all about the flu in this article.
What is the Flu?
Influenza is an acute and highly contagious infectious disease characterized by upper respiratory tract damage, fever and intoxication.
Influenza is spreading as epidemics and pandemics, covering many countries and continents. Outbreaks of influenza have occurred almost every year since 1969.
Causes of influenza
Influenza is caused by different viruses. We discovered the first flu virus in the 20th century. 30s. Since then, scientists have classified influenza viruses as types A, B and C.
The most common type of influenza virus is type A, which usually causes the worst epidemics, type B causes smaller, more localized outbreaks, while Type C virus is less common and usually causes only mild illness.
Influenza virus differs from other viruses in its variable nature because it contains antigens on its outer shell that are formed each year in a unique combination that allows different virus subtypes to occur.
When the flu virus enters the human body, the body makes antibodies that fight these antigens to build immunity.
Why Do We Get the Flu During the Cold Season?
The flu virus is not very resistant to the outside environment, but studies show that at low temperatures, the outer shell of the flu virus becomes harder and
more durable, allowing it to survive longer in the outdoors and traveling from person to person.
Low temperatures during the cold season provide a suitable environment for the spread of the influenza virus, so we observe the highest influenza activity in the period from November to February.
Also, in winter, people spend much more time indoors, which increases the likelihood of the virus moving from one person to another.
In indoor air, the virus is viable for 2 to 9 hours, but as the humidity increases, the virus’s survival time decreases.
In the external environment on the objects, the virus survives and keeps infectivity for a few hours to 10 days.
The source of an influenza infection is usually a flu patient who, by coughing, talking and sneezing, forms an aerosol cloud around him that contains high concentrations of the virus.
A person becomes infected with the flu by inhaling air that contains the flu virus or by using objects on the nose or throat of a sick person.
People who are most at risk of infection are:
- is in the same room as a sick person who is sneezing or coughing;
- comes into close contact with a sick person by contact with the hands or mouth;
- touches various objects used by a sick person, such as support bars or seat handles in public transport, door handles, handrails, basket and trolley handles in shops, water taps and toys in kindergartens.
Influenza has a brief incubation period, which can be explained because the influenza virus multiplies rapidly when it enters the respiratory organs.
Within 8 hours, about 100 virus particles multiplied from one flu virus, but within 24 hours, over 1,000 new virus particles multiplied.
The first signs of flu appear 48 to 72 hours after infection. The patient may infect other people immediately after the onset of symptoms and continue to shed large amounts of the virus for 5 to 7 days after the onset of the disease.
- sudden onset;
- severe headache;
- fever (38 – 40 degrees C);
- breaking sensation in the bones;
- runny nose;
- dry, painful cough.
Influenza can cause complications such as bronchitis, pneumonia, otitis media, myocarditis, so we should start immediately treatment when you feel the first symptoms of the flu. A person with the flu needs to stay calm, drink plenty of fluids, and avoid alcohol and tobacco.
We usually treat the flu at home using medications and natural remedies. However, if it complicates the disease, it is best for the patient to consult their family doctor and go to the hospital.
- Dress appropriately for the weather
- Observe hygiene (wash hands before eating, drinking, using medicines, applying make-up, handling contact lenses, smoking, before cooking and serving, after coughing or sniffing fire, contact with body fluids, visiting public places, touching money)
- Ventilate the room
- As rarely as possible, visit places and events where a lot of people stay
- When you return home, rinse your throat and nose with chamomile, calendula or other herbal tea, as the mucous membranes of the nose and throat are the gateway to the flu virus.
- following a healthy lifestyle;
- eat a complete, vitamin-rich diet and absorb enough fluids, as well as withhold regular meals;
- observes a balanced daily routine – time is devoted not only to work, but also to rest;
- Sufficcent sleep
- regular physical activity;
- inner peace and positive emotions;
- regular tempering procedures and rest in the fresh air;
- use natural immune boosters.
- The flu is very contagious. Take care of your health and the health of the surrounding people – stay home when you fall ill. It is also best to call a doctor.
- If you are already sick, you need peace and rest. Stay in the bed to reduce the risk of exacerbation of heart and lung disease. Very dangerous effects the flu can cause that include inflammation of the heart muscle (myocarditis) and exacerbated pneumonia. You should stay in bed for three to five days.
- Drink plenty of fluids. Herbal teas that contain vitamins and reduce inflammation are more recommended, such as chamomile and linden tea, blackcurrant, raspberry, wild strawberry tea.
- Inhalations with a few drops of eucalyptus or peppermint essential oil are also very healthy, you can also use a chamomile infusion.
- Using vitamin C has shown to make the disease easier and speed up recovery. Remember that the natural sources of vitamin C are citrus fruits, cranberries, cabbage and peppers.
- Strengthen the immune system with garlic, which contains natural antibiotics and antiviral substances.
- Various bee products, especially propolis, also contain substances of health value. However, it should be noted that in some people they may cause allergic reactions.
- Restrict physical activity during illness. We should also avoid heavy exercise for another week or two after recovery. Physical activity is resumed gradually.
Complications After the Flu
Influenza can lead to an outbreak of any chronic disease. It can provoke an exacerbation of an existing chronic process, so inflammation of the sinuses and ear can occur.
Inflammation of the heart muscle – myocarditis is often associated with an existing heart disease.
A fairly common complication is pneumonia. It requires serious treatment, so reckless treatment is not acceptable. We should treat bronchitis just as seriously.
Inflammation of the brain or meninges is more common in severe and very severe flu.
The Bottom Line
Influenza is a serious disease because of rapid outbreaks and large numbers of infected people. It is spreading as epidemics and pandemics.