Flu – what you need to know to protect yourself in the cold season

What you need to know for protection in the cold seasonIn particular in winter many people suffer from flu. Everything you need to know about this disease, how to prevent it and how to treat it, you will learn below.

Table of contents

Flu or influenza is an acute respiratory infection caused by the influenza virus. Included in the group of acute respiratory viral infections (ARVI), the flu occurs more frequently, especially at the beginning of the year.

For most people, flu symptoms go away within a week without medical treatment. The flu can, however, cause serious illness, especially in at-risk people. In the worst cases, even fatal.

1.Reasons for the development and flu symptoms

The flu is a droplet infection that can spread quickly. Shutterstock.com / HBRH

Influenza viruses are around us all the time. They tend to mutate extremely quickly. The virus spreads very quickly. Sneeze, cough, talk. The spread of tiny droplets in the air, which contain the viruses, ensure the transmission of the disease.

In the acute phase of the disease, fever, headache, muscle and joint pain, followed by a runny nose, cough and sore throat are typical. This condition can last for a week. In some cases, the disease spreads to the lungs, causing bronchitis and pneumonia. This is more common in older people, smokers, people in poor general health, or patients with asthma or other lung diseases.

What you can do? It's important to rest until you feel better and your temperature drops. Drinking at least 1.5 liters of fluids per day is recommended. Especially if you have a high fever. So that sweats a lot. Do not drink strong tea, coffee or alcoholic beverages. You do not compensate for the lack of fluids in the body, but rather increase it. Hot water with fresh lemon juice or warm milk with honey will soothe a sore throat and dry cough. You can take pain relieving. Take antipyretic medication. Children should not take aspirin (acetylsalicylic acid), but rather use paracetamol. Read the instructions on the package carefully and follow all recommendations before taking the medicine and especially giving it to children.

2.What can a doctor do?

The doctor ies a sick note in the case of influenza. Shutterstock.com / Syda Productions

It is best to see a doctor immediately and take a sick note. If you go to work, a store, or another public place, you not only run the risk of developing complications in the course of the disease, but you also contribute to the spread of the disease. In particular, the elderly or those with frequent and long-term illnesses, children or adults with fever that lasts longer than 4 days should consult a doctor at the first symptoms.

Influenza is caused by viruses, so using antibacterial medications won't help. The doctor prescribes antibiotics only in case of complications caused by bacteria.

3.Diagnosis

A general blood test is prescribed for diagnosis (leukopenia, thrombocytopenia). Usually, the clinical manifestations of the disease are sufficient for the assessment. If necessary, an examination of the detachable mucus of the nose and throat is performed to detect the viral antigen. The patient is also prescribed an X-ray examination of the lungs. A serological method (detection of antibodies against the virus in the blood). A virological study also confirm the diagnosis. Virological and serological methods of treatment are used to diagnose epidemics. Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) is important for influenza diagnosis. PCR (polymerase chain reaction) method is also indicative.

4.Types of influenza

Cough and runny nose are typical symptoms of influenza. Shutterstock.com / Africa Studio

Currently, there are a number of different flu variants. To date, more than 2.000 variants of influenza virus identified. Some types of influenza are very difficult for the human body to process, while other types cause relatively mild forms of the disease. Influenza is divided into type A, type B and type C. Type A and B are annual epidemics that affect up to twenty percent of the population. Type A influenza virus and its variants can infect both humans and animals, although they are more common in humans.

Influenza virus type B has only ever been found in humans. This type of flu can be less severe than influenza virus type A, but type B can sometimes be extremely difficult for those who are ill. Type C is less common and has similar symptoms: general weakness, cough and fever. This type is weaker than any of the types and subtypes of A or B.

5.Prevention

Vaccination can help prevent the flu. Shutterstock.com / ALPA PROD

Preventive vaccination is the traditional method of preventing influenza on the recommendation of the WHO (World Health Organization). Vaccination is especially indicated in risk groups, including the elderly, children, or patients with chronic lung disease. Vaccination is given with an unfavorable epidemiological prognosis (usually in mid-autumn, at the beginning of the flu season). A renewed vaccination in winter is also possible.

Vaccines change annually, depending on the type of viruses expected to cause an epidemic. The vaccine is not given to children under six months of age, to people with an allergy to chicken protein, or to people who have had a previous reaction to a flu vaccine.

For emergency prevention of the disease is used the introduction of interferon into the nasal cavity. As a non-specific prophylaxis in the room where the flu patient is located, wet cleaning is performed daily with disinfectants. UV irradiation, catalytic air purifiers or aerosol disinfectors are used for air disinfection. To prevent influenza infection, it is helpful to avoid public places and use a mask during an epidemic.

6.Flu treatment

The doctor and the patient have three roles:

+ to destroy the virus;

+ to help the immune system and fight the infection;

+ to mitigate the painful symptoms of the disease.

These goals are achieved in a variety of ways. Both medicines and home remedies can be used.

7.Medication

In the worst case, medication can also help with influenza. Shutterstock.com / Syda Productions

For influenza, antiviral therapy is of utmost importance. The earlier the use is started, the better. The number of influenza drugs is limited. Most effective against influenza pathogens are drugs that prevent the virus from entering the cells.

To alleviate the course of influenza, resort to symptomatic drugs. Vasoconstrictive drops are used for runny nose (no longer than 5 days), local antiseptics for sore throat, and expectorant medications for coughs. To reduce the inflammatory response to influenza, doctors often prescribe anti-inflammatory painkillers based on acetaminophen and ibuprofen. Taking antipyretics is allowed only at temperatures above 38 ° C, otherwise you can prevent the body from fighting viruses.

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