Signs and Symptoms of the Flu
The flu or also known as influenza is a contagious respiratory illness caused by viruses. The flu is different from a cold. It can be hard to tell the difference because the symptoms can be similar.
The flu usually comes on suddenly and those people who have the flu often feel some of these symptoms:
- Nausea, vomiting, and/or diarrhea (most common in children)
- Warm, flushed skin and red, watery eyes
- Weakness or extreme fatigue
- Pain and tiredness around your eyes
- Aches in your muscles and joints
- A 100° F or higher fever
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Sore throat
- Dry cough
What Causes the Flu
Type C flu virus is a more stable variant and usually causes milder respiratory symptoms. Type A and B viruses are responsible for the large flu epidemics. Type B viruses circulate only among humans and Type A are found in many different animals, including seals, horses, whales, pigs, chickens, and ducks. The flu vaccine can help protect you from type A and B flu viruses, but not for type C virus.
How does the Flu Spread
The flu is a highly contagious disease. The flu virus is spread when you either inhale infected droplets when someone with the infection coughs, sneezes, talks, or when you pick up the germs from an object, such as: telephones, computer keyboards, television remotes, handles, or doorknobs then you touch your nose, eyes or mouth with your dirty hands.
The flu viruses are constantly changing. But if you've had influenza in the past, your body has already made antibodies to fight it and if in the future you get similar viruses to those you've encountered before, the antibodies may prevent infection or at least lessen its severity.
How to Prevent Getting the Flu
1. Get Vaccinated
Get vaccinated maybe is the best way to prevent getting the flu. The vaccine is designed to protect you against flu strains, for example: the H1N1 "swine flu." So, make sure to get yourself vaccinated as soon as the vaccine is available.
Several types of flu vaccines:
Flu shot. Flu shot is a flu vaccine that contains a dead virus and administered by injection into the muscle and top layer of the skin.
Nasal spray vaccine. A nasal spray is a device that is used to deliver the vaccine into your nostrils. This method is approved for health people 2 through 49 years old and not pregnant.
2. Take Care of body hygiene
There are several ways you can do to help protect you from getting the flu, including:
- Wash your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or soap.
- Avoid touching your mouth, nose or eyes with dirty hands
- Avoid close contact with people that displaying symptoms, like sneezing or coughing
- Cover your mouth and nose with a mask
3. Eat healthy food
4. Drink plenty of water
5. Get enough sleep and exercise
How to Treat the Flu
The flu treatment that you should take depends on your health condition and the symptoms.
If you have an itchy, water eyes, or runny nose; then an antihistamine may be helpful. Antihistamines help relieve symptoms such as: nasal discharge, itching and sneezing.
If you have sinus or nasal congestion, then a decongestant is your best option to reduce swelling in the nasal passageways. However, it can not be used for long periods, and can cause rebound symptoms when you stop using it.
Keep in mind that both antihistamines and decongestants have side effects. Decongestants often make people hyper or keep them awake, whereas antihistamines can make people drowsy.
There are five antiviral drugs approved for treating the flu in the United States, including:
- Peramivir (Rapivab)
- Rimantadine (Flumadine)
- Amantadine (Symmetrel)
- Zanamivir (Relenza)
- Oseltamivir (Tamiflu)
They are approved for adults and children one year and older.
Normally, antibiotics only used to treat bacterial infections and not designed to against viral infections like the flu. However, some people have bacterial infections caused by or along with the flu, so they will need to take antibiotics. Please keep in mind to contact your favorite doctor if you think you will need antibiotics.
Ways to treat the flu or its symptoms without medication.
You can treat flu symptoms without medication by:
- Getting plenty of rest
- Drink gargling salt water to soothe a sore throat
- Putting a humidifier in your room to make breathing easier
- Placing a damp washcloth on your legs, arms, and forehead to reduce discomfort
- Covering up with a warm blanket to calm chills