Influenza

Man having a flu

What is it?

Influenza is a very common infection that can strike anyone at any age. Influenza is more commonly known as the flu and is more common during certain times of the year. When the seasons change in certain countries, more people may come down with the influenza infection because of the changes in the environment. New strains of influenza occur every year, making the it more difficult to treat. Most people will experience a case of influenza at least once in their lives.

Cause

Influenza is typically caused through movement in the air, when particles containing the virus are emitted through a person sneezing or coughing. The flu brings with it a variety of symptoms ranging from a simple sneeze to high-grade fever.

To help prevent developing the flu, you can get a flu vaccination, wash your hands frequently and keep your immune system healthy through smart food choices and vitamins.

woman blowing nose into handkerchief

Symptoms

The symptoms that are associated with influenza include a fever that has a sudden onset. The temperature of the fever is at least 38C.  Other common symptoms include general body aches, pains, fatigue, coughing, runny nose, upset stomach, nausea and diarrhea. Those who already have existing health problems, may have a more difficult time to get well from influenza. It may weaken the immune system, making the person at risk for developing other infections including bacterial infections.

Diagnosis

The symptoms of influenza can help you to determine yourself if you have the flu or not. If you have an otherwise healthy immune system you may not need to go to the Doctor to receive treatment, if you are able to get a handle on the flu on your own. Only if symptoms are severe or last a long time should you need to see the doctor. Those who have a compromised immune system, smoke, pregnant, are very young or are elderly may require additional treatment from the doctor to help them get over the flu.

Sick woman resting in bed

Treatment

The best way to treat the infection is of corse to try to prevent it from happening in the first place. The most effective way that you can reduce the likelihood of developing the flu is to wash your hands often, and keep your home, vehicle and workplace clean. This will help to minimize the amount of bacteria that you encounter. Another way to possibly prevent getting the flu is to get the flu vaccination. These vaccinations will need to be administered every so often, typically every one to two years. New strains of the flu can develop and morph, making the old vaccination not work. It is suggested that those who work in heavily populated offices, hospitals, schools and nursing homes receive the vaccination so that they will not develop the flu. Young children, those with compromised immune systems and seniors are more likely to develop the flu and suffer adverse effects, and should be seen by the doctor quickly to avoid this from happening. One of the most tried and true remedies for those who have the flu is rest, nutritious food and drinking lots of fluids. Medications like ibuprofen can be taken to help to bring down the fever and reduce the pain. Using a cold cloth on the forehead can help to break the fever, and having warm baths can help to sooth muscle aches and pains. Many people who have a healthy immune system will clear the flu itself, usually over the span of a week to two weeks. If your case of the flu is severe your doctor may prescribe a round of antivirals to help your body fight it off.