What Is Influenza?
Influenza, or the flu, is a viral infection of the respiratory tract (the nose, throat, and lungs) that spreads from person to person by coughing, sneezing or touching surfaces. In the flu, a genetic mutation of the main virus variation occurs which allows them to evade our immune system. For this reason, people get a new vaccination every year. Although, the yearly flu strains in winter are not severe and could be resolved easily, sometimes the flu outbreaks are a serious cause of illness. Those with a weak immune system are at risk of developing complications from influenza-like pneumonia and bronchitis. In U.S. fall and winter months have the most flu viruses and this time of the year is known as the flu season. More than 200,000 people are hospitalized due to complications of the flu during flu season. Very young children, older adults, pregnant women and those with asthma or other lung disease are more prone to developing serious illness.
Is Cold and Flu Same?
Although cold and influenza may have the same symptoms such as a sore throat, runny nose and coughing they are not the same. The primary difference is the severity of the illness. Influenza is more serious its symptoms are more intense and are more complicated. In some cases, influenza may also result in death. Another difference is the duration of illness. The symptoms of cold make you sick for a few days, whereas in influenza you may feel unwell for a few days or up to two weeks. Also, unlike influenza vaccine, there is no vaccine for a common cold.
What are the Symptoms of Influenza
- A headache
- Body ache and pain
- Fever and chills
- A cough, runny nose and sore throat
- Tiredness and weakness
- Watery eyes
Along with these, sometimes nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea can also be experienced in influenza infection. Although people can recover from influenza within one to two weeks, people with a weakened immune system can develop severe, life-threatening complications. The doctor will detect influenza as per the flu symptoms and will conduct a test which may include taking a swab sample from the upper part of the throat.
The treatment of influenza focuses on easing its symptoms. One should get plenty of rest and drink fluids, keep a wet cloth on the forehead to reduce fever and take paracetamol to get relief from fever and body ache. You can buy paracetamol from a verified online pharmacy as well. Other than this, the antiviral medicines are prescribed to treat influenza. These medicines help by reducing the severity and duration of flu symptoms. Generally, antiviral medicines are prescribed to those who are at a higher risk of developing serious complications of influenza.
One can avoid the illness and its severe complications by getting an annual influenza vaccine, also known as flu shots or flu jabs. In case you develop the symptoms make sure to wash your hands regularly and thoroughly, avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth, do not share utensils and stay away from work or school.