Flu (Inluenza)

by Kemboi Kibet

Influenza commonly known as flu is a viral infection of the respiratory system. Flu is caused by different strains of viruses and attacks the nose , throat and lungs. Influenza can be fatal for elderly people, newborns, people with compromised immune system.Its onset is sudden and may last for a week.The virus is constantly changing so medications to treat flu are also being constantly improved to attack new strains of emerging virus. Vaccination is the best defense against flu. The diseaseis highly contagious.

CAUSES

Influenza viruses travels as droplets in the air when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks. Touching your mouth, nose or eyes after hand to hand contact with an infected person or touching an infected surface or objects can make you get the virus.

New strains of flu viruses are always emerging. If you’ve had the virus, you have antibodies to protect you from the flu if the same strain or similar stains emerges. However you can still get the disease if a totally different strain comes out.

SYMPTOMS

Flu symptoms mimic common cold. The difference is that flu is more severe and its onset is sudden.Some of the symptoms include

headache
dry cough
nasal congestions
fatigue
body and muscle aches
chills
sore throat
fever

RISK FACTORS

Age. The virus is more common in the elderly and children

Weakened immune system. People with compromised immune systems from a chronic illness like asthma or HIV have higher risk of getting the disease

Pregnancy women have higher risk of getting the virus

Health care workers and child care workers have higher chance of getting the disease and so does kids in daycare and school

TREATMENT

Flu may resolve on its own with bed rest and lots of fluid intake. Taking antiviral medication may decrease severity of the disease or reduce the duration of the disease.

Pain medications like Tylenol may be taken to relieve aches and pain. Humidifier may be used to make breathing easier. Nasal strips may also be used to reduce congestion.

PREVENTION.

The best way to protect yourself from influenza is through annual flu vaccination. Vaccination protects you against three flu viruses. Other ways of preventing the disease include

washing hands frequently and using alcohol based hand sanitizer

coughing and sneezing in a tissue and disposing it of right away

Avoiding large crowds

COMPLICATIONS

Flu can lead to serious complication in especially the elderly and children. These include

bronchitis
ear infection
pneumonia
sinus infection

SEEK MEDICAL ADVICE

If child is

have trouble breathing
severe vomiting
irritable
fever
weak and not active

If adult is

shortness of breadth
persistent vomiting
dizziness and confusion
fever
chest and abdominal pain

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