Flu is a respiratory tract infection that is caused by virus. It is extremely contagious and can be gotten when you come in contact with an infectious individual for example by shaking hands.
Adults become contagious from the first day and symptoms may start manifesting in 1-2 days and last up to 7 days after becoming sick. Thus, you can spread flu even before you realize you have it.
Types of Flu Viruses
There are three types of flu viruses, these are;
- Influenza A
- Influenza B
- Influenza C
Types A and B viruses cause seasonal epidemics that strike the United States and Europe practically every winter. The type C influenza virus causes mild respiratory illness and is not responsible for outbreaks.
Understanding the signs and symptoms of flu, treatment options, its differential diagnosis, and preventive measures will go a long way to reduce transmission, ensure prompt and effective treatment and reduce mortality rates.
Flu and other respiratory tract infections such as cold can be very confusing, both have runny nose, sore throat, and cough. In addition, Flu has fever, cold sweats, headaches, body aches, headaches, and exhaustion.
Symptoms of flu
- Cold sweats
- Joint pains
Other symptoms may include nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. These symptoms may last for several weeks. And it is important to know that not all individuals will experience all the symptoms of Flu, for example, High temperature/Fever.
Often the early sign of Flu is extreme fatigue others include cough, sore throat, fever, joint aches, chills, and abdominal abnormalities.
Risk Factors for Flu
Some of the people that are predisposed to Flu include:
- Age; people more than 65yrs and Children mostly below 5yrs
- Pregnant women
- Individuals with heart disease
- Individuals with kidney disease
- People with Asthma or bronchitis
- People Taking steroids
- Cancer patients
Treatment of Flu
Treatment can be pharmacological or non-pharmacological.
Non-pharmacological options require that individuals suffering from Flu should:
- Eat well if necessary
- Stop smoking
- Stop alcohol intake
- Stay at home
- Avoid contact with uninfected individuals’ in order to reduce spreading it
- Get adequate rest and keep warmth
- Drink plenty of fluids
Flu is a viral infection and as such cannot be treated with antibiotics. Antivirals such as oseltamivir (Tamiflu) and zanamivir (Relenza) can be prescribed. Analgesics can be used to relieve headaches and body pains. If you are not sure of the doses to take kindly contact your doctor or pharmacist.
Prevention of Flu
The number of people who die from Flu increases yearly. The single best way to get protected in a Flu epidemic region is to get vaccinated. There are two types of Vaccines that are used namely;
1. The Flu shot vaccine: This is usually administered by injecting the antibody in the arm. It is recommended for people more than 6 months old according to CDC and those with chronic medical conditions. This vaccine can help reduce your chances of getting sick and spreading it to uninfected individuals. It is approved that you get one shot yearly and it takes about 2 weeks for the vaccine to become active.
No noted side effects were reported but rarely after the shot, you might have a little fever and feel tired. At the site of injection, there might be redness and swellings. These effects are short termed and not severe.
Contraindications of Flu Shot vaccine
- Hypersensitivity reactions
- If you had Guillain-Barre syndrome that occurred after you were administered the flu vaccine.
2. The nasal spray Flu vaccine: is produced from weakened viruses. It is usually administered by trained health personnel, which involves spraying it into your nose. This vaccine keeps you safe from the flu virus that can get you ill during the forthcoming flu season.
Some of the side effects of Nasal spray flu vaccine include runny nose, shivering, fatigue, headache, congestion, sore throat, and cough. Children might also get high temperature, muscle pains, wheezing, and abdominal pain, vomiting, or diarrhea.
The nasal spray is administered to most people from 2years – 49years who are healthy and not pregnant.
Contraindications of nasal spray vaccine
- Children below the age of 2
- Adults that are above 49years of age
- Hypersensitivity from previous vaccination
- Children on aspirin therapy
- Children 2-4 years with asthma
- Pregnant women
- Those on influenza antivirals in the last 48hours
- Individuals with Compromised immune system