Flu (Influenza)

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Flu or influenza is a very common viral infection and is mainly spread from person to person through droplets produced while coughing or sneezing. This condition can be irritating, but will generally improve after about a week.

Generally, the flu can resolve on its own without any special treatment. However, in some cases, persistent and severe flu can lead to dangerous complications.

Normally, the flu occurs suddenly and quickly within a few hours. A person who catches the flu will feel unwell, resulting in difficulty in continuing with one’s daily activities.

Today, there are many accessible flu vaccines for both children and adults. However, vaccination cannot guarantee that a person can completely avoid infection from the flu virus.

Causes of Flu

The flu virus travels through the air in droplets when someone with the infection coughs, sneezes or talks. Individuals can inhale the droplets directly, or they can pick up the germs from an object, such as a telephone or computer keyboard, and so on.

Individuals with the infection of the flu virus do not always show symptoms right away. Normally, symptoms may only appear after one day or even several days after. 

Children and adults with weakened immune systems tend to experience flu symptoms for a slightly longer time.

From time to time, the flu virus continues to evolve and develop, with new strains appearing regularly. A person who has been infected with influenza viruses in the past, may already have antibodies to fight that specific strain of the virus. Those antibodies may prevent infection or lessen its severity.

Apart from fighting the upcoming viruses, these antibodies can also reduce the severity of the flu.

Antibodies against influenza viruses that a person has had in the past may not protect them from new influenza strains – meaning, they will most likely catch the flu again. 

People who are at higher risk of developing flu complications include:

  • Pregnant women, especially during the second and third semester 
  • People who are within the age group range of <12 years or >65 years.
  • People who are very obese, with a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or higher
  • People <19 years who consume aspirin or headache medications in the long term
  • People who live or work in areas prone to influenza viruses, such as hospital, military barracks, or special care homes
  • People who have chronic diseases, such as diabetes, heart disease, kidney problems, blood disorders, and more. 
  • People with weakened immune systems due to certain treatments, such as cancer treatments, organ transplants, and so on.

When to See a Doctor for Flu? 

If you have the flu, you can consult an ENT specialist, as flu infection affects the respiratory tract, including the nose. However, in cases of severe flu complications, you may need to see an internist that specialises in infection problems.

To identify flu symptoms, the doctor will prescribe a series of tests to diagnose the virus and determine the appropriate treatment. In some cases, doctors can also immediately diagnose flu symptoms simply by looking at the patient’s condition and asking about the symptoms experienced, without undergoing specific examinations.

However, in certain cases, the doctor may recommend the patient to perform influenza testing. Further tests are usually done by taking samples, then having them tested in the laboratory.

Symptoms of Flu

Flu is very common and can affect anyone, both children and adults. Flu symptoms are also easy to recognize easily. Typically, the flu symptoms include:

  • Difficulty sleeping.
  • Headache.
  • Tiredness and weakness.
  • Sore throat.
  • Aching muscles.
  • Dry, persistent cough.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Sudden fever, reaching 38 degrees Celsius or more. 

In some cases, people with the flu may also experience symptoms such as:

  • Diarrhea or stomach pain.
  • Feel sick and unable to move from the bed

In children, the symptoms are alike. However, children will have additional symptoms like ear infection or extreme tiredness. 

A very severe flu will cause other symptoms such as: 

  • Vomiting
  • Chest and stomach pain 
  • Sudden dizziness.
  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath

Treatment for Flu

Most flu symptoms can resolve on its own in less than a week. This is particularly for the younger generation who are not at high risk to deal with the flu.  

However, if the flu continues, then further medical care needs to be done.

People who catch the flu do not always have to rely on the medicines prescribed by doctors to get better. They can also consult a pharmacist and purchase the recommended medicines.

Antibiotics will be given by your doctor to treat the flu symptoms. Your doctor will prescribe antibiotics with a certain dosage. Even after you feel better, you must finish your antibiotics course. 

Your doctor will most likely advise you to live a healthier lifestyle in order to ease your symptoms. Additionally, your doctor will also suggest you to drink more water and avoid anyone who is sick.  

It is important to take several measures to reduce the spread of influenza viruses, including:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water
  • Cough or sneeze into a tissue.
  • Immediately throw away the used tissues after coughing or sneezing

Treatment Costs for Flu

The treatment costs for flu varies, depending on the symptoms you are experiencing, the severity, and the method of treatment itself. 

For more information regarding the estimated cost of flu treatment, contact Smarter Health.

Prevention of Flu

The most recommended measure to prevent flu is undergoing routine vaccinations. However, this vaccination is not 100% effective —  it can help reduce your risk of the flu and its severity.

The vaccination flu is recommended for everyone aged 6 months or older. Vaccination should be done before flu season strikes.

When entering the flu season, a preventive measure that can be done is by keeping a distance from people who may have been infected by influenza viruses. You can do this easily as flu symptoms are easy to recognize. 

Moreover, you should do your best to maintain personal hygiene during the flu season. Wash your hands more regularly with soap and get plenty of rest.

Home Remedies for Patients Diagnosed with Flu

Oftentimes, patients with flu symptoms recover on their own. For this reason, home remedies play a vital role in improving the patient’s condition

Patients dealing with the flu are advised to:

  • Consume more water or fluids than usual.
  • Get plenty of rest at home, avoid outdoor activities for some time and increase sleep duration. 
  • If you are not taking antibiotics, take adequate pain relievers to help ease flu symptoms such as headaches, abdominal pain, and so on.

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