Influenza is an infectious disease caused due to microbial agents known as “flu” viruses. It gives rise to frequent coughs, incessant runny nose, chest congestion with thick mucus secretions, fevers and aggravated sore throat. Flu is a contagious disease that spreads through cough or sneeze droplets.
In milder cases, the body can fight the influenza virus without any medical treatment. However, in cases where there are extreme body temperature fluctuations and if the patient is already suffering from asthma, liver and kidney ailments, influenza can be quite dangerous and even prove to be fatal.
How Does Influenza Spread?
Generally, this disease spreads from the infected person to a healthy individual through air droplets carrying the viral particles. This commonly occurs while coming in close contact with an affected person and even when he or she coughs in public or sneezes suddenly.
Who Is At Risk?
People with chronic conditions like diabetes, heart disease and autoimmune disorders are prone to the flu virus too, as they have compromised immune systems.
What Are Symptoms Of Influenza?
The initial symptoms of influenza show up in a manner similar to common cold, characterized by a runny nose, poor lung function and extreme hoarseness in the voice.
The typical indications of influenza include:
- Viral fever with body temperatures soaring above 101 degrees Fahrenheit or 39 degrees Celsius
- Dry cough
- Blocked nose, causing difficulty in breathing
- Discomfort and extreme pain in muscles
- Tiredness and dizziness
- Throat infections
Treatment Options Available For Influenza:
In general, people often mistake a flu attack as a common cold. As a result, many resort to home remedies, disregarding medical advice. This is not a healthy practice and it is advised to always consult with a healthcare provider immediately upon recognizing the signs of influenza. CDC recommends annual influenza vaccination for adults and children with chronic pulmonary (including asthma), cardiovascular (except isolated hypertension), renal, hepatic, neurologic, hematologic, or metabolic (including diabetes mellitus) disorders.
- The doctor will confirm the diagnosis of influenza following a laboratory technique called PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction) performed on a tissue sample.
- Treatment consists of ample bed rest and intake of profuse amounts of fluids, to make up for energy loss and electrolyte imbalance due to fever.
- Furthermore, the doctor will prescribe antiviral medications to be taken orally.
- It is also highly recommended to take a flu shot, which is basically a flu vaccination and protect yourself and your family.
Influenza Myths And Facts
Flu does not spread from an infected person and occurs only in extremely cold or freezing climatic conditions.
Flu is highly contagious and it can hit you anytime. It occurs widely in summer, monsoon, as well as winter.
Healthy people do not require a flu vaccine.
The flu can be contracted by a very fit person as well, particularly when there is an epidemic. Vaccination against influenza is hence essential for diseased and healthy individuals.
Prolonged illness during flu will require antibiotics for treatment.
Antibiotics are designed to fight against invading bacteria but are not at all effective against flu, which is a viral infection.
Disclaimer: This is a part of the public awareness initiative on influenza supported by Sanofi Pasteur India. The information shared here is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. One should consult a registered healthcare professional for any health-related information or treatment.