Influenza is one of the common illnesses that you may get from a virus. Influenza viruses are contagious and generally spread via respiratory droplets. In the further section, we will describe more about influenza, its causes, symptoms, prevention, and treatments. To dive into the depth of the topic, continue reading this blog.
What is influenza
Influenza is commonly known as flu. It’s a common respiratory illness you get from the virus (influenza). Symptoms often include headache, body ache, fever, runny or stuffy nose, and coughing. If you have an underlying medical condition or are pregnant, you run the chance of experiencing severe problems. The best approach to prevent contracting the flu is to get vaccinated each year.
Causes of Influenza
The flu can sometimes result in significant complications and produce mild to severe symptoms, mainly in young kids, older individuals, and people with weakened immune systems.
As mentioned above, influenza is generally caused by influenza viruses, which relate to the Orthomyxoviridae family. Influenza viruses come in four primary categories: influenza A, B, C, and D. The majority of human seasonal flu outbreaks are caused by influenza A and B viruses.
Influenza epidemics typically happen in the autumn and winter in temperate climates, since it is frequently a seasonal illness. This seasonal illness is affected by various factors. These factors include humidity, changes in temperature, and human behavior, as people spend more time indoors and in close contact with one another during colder months.
When an infected individual talks, coughs, or sneezes, respiratory droplets are released that allow the flu virus to transmit from one person to another. These droplets can settle on surfaces and persist for a short time there or be inhaled by adjacent humans. Infection can also result from contacting contaminated surfaces and then touching your mouth, nose, or eyes.
Drift and Shift in Antigenic
Influenza viruses have the potential to undergo genetic changes, which may result in new strains. Antigenic drift refers to gradual changes in the neuraminidase and hemagglutinin(viral surface proteins). It allows the virus to evade immunity acquired from previous vaccinations or infections. On the other hand, antigenic shift refers to the abrupt appearance of new strains as a result of the reassortment of genetic material between several influenza viruses.
Influenza generally spreads in crowded environments, such as offices, schools, and public transportation.
These are a few reasons that may cause influenza. Other reasons, such as lack of vaccination, poor respiratory hygiene, lack of immunity, and weakened immune systems, are also responsible for spreading influenza.
Symptoms of Influenza
Initially, influenza may look like a common cold with a sore throat, sneezing, and runny nose. Common Influenza symptoms include:
- Sweats and chills, fever
- Headache, muscle ache, fatigue
- Stuffy or runny nose, sore throat
- Shortness of breath, persistent or dry cough
- Eye pain, weakness, and tiredness
- Eye pain, diarrhea, and vomiting (mainly in children)
Treatment for Influenza
Rest and fluids
You should get plenty of rest as it is crucial to allow the body to recover from influenza. It’s vital to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids like soups, water, or herbal tea.
Gargling with warm salt water
You may gargle with warm salty water to treat influenza. It is one of the most effective treatments. You may mix half a teaspoon of salt in warm water and gargle to treat sore throat.
It helps to lower inflammation.
Honey and warm water
You may add a teaspoon of honey to herbal tea or warm water. Honey may assist in soothing a cough and providing relief for a sore throat.
You may try chicken soup to lower a cold’s undesired adverse reactions if you are non-vegetarian. It may provide you relief and make your body warm.
You may apply a heating pad or a warm compress to the chest or sinuses. It may assist in alleviating congestion and providing comfort.
Using a saline nasal spray to rinse the nasal passages may help lower post-nasal drip and clear congestion. It may also relieve sinus pressure.
Specific herbs and herbal teas may provide relief from Influenza symptoms. For instance, chamomile tea may promote restful sleep and promote relaxation. On the other hand, Ginger tea may help soothe nausea symptoms.
You may try these treatments to alleviate Influenza symptoms. Besides, you may take the help of medications after consulting your healthcare expert.
Prevention of Influenza
You may follow a few steps to prevent influenza, such as:
Getting an annual flu vaccine is one of the most effective ways to prevent influenza. The Influenza vaccine provides protection against the most prevalent strains of the flu virus every year.
Wash your hand daily
You should wash your hands with handwash/soap or water for at least twenty seconds. You should do it before eating, after using the toilet, and after sneezing or coughing.
You may use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if water and soap are unavailable. Make sure that sanitizer you are using should contain at least 60 percent alcohol.
Try to avoid close contact
It would be best if you tried to avoid close contact with sick people with flu-like symptoms. If you are sick, stay home to lower the risk of spreading the Influenza virus to others.
Cover your nose and mouth while sneezing
When sneezing or coughing, you should cover your nose and mouth with a handkerchief, tissue paper, or elbow. This habit helps to prevent the spread of (respiratory) droplets containing the Influenza virus.
Avoid touching your face
Influenza viruses may enter your body via your nose, eyes, or mouth. You should avoid touching your face with dirty, unwashed hands to lower the risk of infection.
Maintain a healthy lifestyle
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle may bolster your immune system and assist in preventing infections. You should eat a balanced diet, handle stress levels, get daily exercise, and take proper sleep.
Disinfect and clean surfaces
Influenza viruses may survive on surfaces for a few hours to many days. You should disinfect and clean frequently touched surfaces and objects.
These surfaces and objects include mobile devices, countertops, doorknobs, laptops, and more.
Following these points may help lower the risk of spreading influenza.
Medicines for treating influenza from your home
You may try several medicines to treat influenza. You may get these medicines quickly from your nearby store or by ordering them online.
Fever reduces and pain relievers
Medicines such as ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil) and acetaminophen (Tylenol) may help decrease fever. They may also alleviate body pains and relieve influenza-related headaches.
You should follow the recommended guidelines and dosages provided on the packaging. You may consult with a healthcare expert for valuable tips and instructions.
Cough suppressants and expectorants
Coughing is the most common symptom of influenza. Cough suppressants may assist in relieving dry coughs. On the other hand, expectorants may assist in loosening and thinning mucus. Dextromethorphan is the most well-known cough suppressant, and Guaifenesin is a widely used expectorant.
A few Antihistamines, such as Benadryl (diphenhydramine), may help relieve runny noses, sneezing, and itchy eyes associated with influenza.
However, they may cause drowsiness, so stay cautious if you require staying alert during the day.
Sore throat relief
OTC throat sprays or lozenges containing ingredients such as menthol, benzocaine, or phenol may provide temporary relief from a sore throat.
Understanding the causes, symptoms, and prevention of influenza may help you in several ways. You may follow the above-mentioned treatment tips to prevent influenza. We also mentioned some effective medicines that may provide you relief and help treat influenza symptoms effectively.