Influenza or commonly famous as “flu” is a viral infection that is spread by infected droplets which enter to the healthy person’s body. From that point, the virus propagates extend to the whole body.
Flu outbreaks hit the whole world every year. Winter is the peak time when flu primarily shows up. But it is not necessary that you can only get infected with flu in winter. There are chances that you can get this infection at any time of the year.
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There are many strains of this flu-causing virus that hit humans. Researchers put effort to study the prevalence factors of these strains to determine which virus will be the most common this year.
The prevalent strains are further studied to formulate the vaccine. Using the vaccination of fly is one of the easiest ways to prevent and control the flu infection.
Is there a difference between cold and the flu?
People mix common cold and flu sometimes. They may look similar at first, as they both are respiratory problems. Even the symptoms of both are so similar. The only difference is that different viral strains are responsible for these similar conditions.
The only difference between these two is the symptoms. Some of these symptoms are common. People suffering from this illness may show the following symptoms.
- A runny nose
- Stuffy nose or congestion
- Body pains
The common cold is a casual infection but flu is a severe form of it. Colds rarely cause any severe health problem. But flu, on the other hand, can lead to problems such as ear or sinus infections, pneumonia or sepsis.
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It is sometimes problematic to differentiate the symptoms of both. That is where you need help from a doctor. He will conduct the tests, which will help to determine what is affecting your health.
If you are diagnosed with cold, the symptoms will only run till the virus completes its course. The treatments of cold can be over-the-counter (OTC) cold medications. You need to stay hydrated and take plenty of rest.
Common symptoms of the flu
Some of the common symptoms of flu include the following.
Fever- The most obvious symptom of flu is the fever. It will increase the temperature of your body. This fever can be from low grade to high. However, it is not alarming. The young children may show a high-grade fever, which is not as such common in adults.
Sometimes, this condition is not even fever, but you will still feel feverish. It accompanies the symptoms such as chills, sweats, shivering, and others. The fever due to flu lasts for maximum one week, but it normally takes 3-4 days to heal completely if you are using medicines.
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Cough- A dry, persistent cough is common with the flu. A cough may worsen, becoming uncomfortable and painful. You may also experience shortness of breath or chest discomfort during this time. Many flu-related coughs can last for about two weeks.
Muscle pains-These flu-related muscle pains are most common in your neck, back, arms, and legs. They can often be severe, making it difficult to move even when trying to perform basic tasks.
Headache- Your first symptom of the flu may be a severe headache. Sometimes eye symptoms, including light and sound sensitivity, go along with your headache.
Fatigue- Feeling tired is a not-so-obvious symptom of the flu. Feeling unwell can be a sign of many conditions. These feelings of tiredness and fatigue may come on fast and be difficult to overcome.
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What’s the incubation period for the flu?
The period when flu keeps on hitting you is between one to four days. However, if you have a weaker immunity, it may take more days for the flu virus to go. Incubation means the period during which the virus develops fully inside your body. You may or may not experience any symptoms during this time.
If you are not experiencing any symptoms, it doesn’t mean that you aren’t contagious. People are capable of transmitting the virus even when they are not showing off any symptoms.
When is flu season?
The time period when flu becomes prominent is called flu season. That flu season is fall to winter, occupying the months from October to March. The cases of flu are maximum during this period.
What is a “24-hour flu”?
The term “24-hour flu” is popular, especially in children. But to your surprise, it is nothing similar or same as influenza. The name flu may deceive you that it is influenza but both these are different. A family or virus called norovirus causes the 24-hour flu. These viral strains do not cause influenza.
The common symptoms of 24-hour flu caused by norovirus are as follows.
- Stomach cramps
These symptoms are entirely different from the influenza virus. Common symptoms of influenza are as follows.
- Persistent coughing
- Severe headaches
- A runny nose
- Nasal congestions
- Body pains
You see, these symptoms are different from 24-hour flu. The symptoms of 24-hour flu occur only in the gastrointestinal system. That is why this 24-hour flu is sometimes called “stomach flu”. It is not necessary for it to go away in 24 hours only. It may take 2-3 days to completely heal it.
Is the flu contagious?
Yes, flu is contagious and that’s the way, which spreads it. Many people get it from a physical contact with an infected person. You are even able to spread it without knowing if you are having it or not.
A person remains contagious for the time flu completes its turn. Normally a person is capable of spreading it for five to seven days even after the symptoms disappear. People with a weaker immune system take more time for the infection to heal.
It is necessary to stay home and rest when you have flu. Make sure that you don’t meet many people when you are infected. Once you are diagnosed with flu, alert every person around you from the first day your symptoms begin.
How to treat flu?
Certain medicines help to heal the symptoms of flu. These medicines are called “antiviral” drugs, which are capable of killing the causative virus of the flu. These medicines are easily available. But for using the right choice of medicine, you must visit a doctor who can prescribe you with the most effective drug.
Antiviral medicines heal the symptoms and kill the virus. They also make the duration of infection shorter. These medicines only help if you are having influenza. The medicines don’t help for the common cold or 24-hour flu. Also, these medicines may bring side effects.
Taking a right type of antiviral medicine is necessary for people that are at a risk of developing extreme complications of flu. People that are at a high risk of getting these complications are as follows.
- Children that are below the age of 5 years.
- People older than 65 years of age.
- Pregnant or nursing mothers.
- People with chronic health conditions.
- Patients with autoimmune diseases.
The effects of antiviral effects are best when you take them within two days of the symptoms showing up. In any case, you are unable to take them; you can always take them later before it goes out of the hands.
Over-the-counter (OTC) flu medicines
There are certain medicines that help to relieve the symptoms of flu. They don’t kill the medicines. Antiviral medicines are only available with a prescription but over the counter medicines that help to relieve the symptoms are available without a prescription. Some of these medicines are as follows.
- Decongestants- they help in nasal congestion by breaking up the mucus.
- Cough suppressants- They help with a persistent cough, which mostly affects in the night.
- Expectorants- They help to break the congestion in chest.
- Antihistamines- They prevent the cold and allergy.
All these over the counter medicines are written above are not antiviral medicines. There are many medicines, which are available as “flu pills.” Taking any of these medicines will make the conditions better. If you are using any of these flu pills, do not combine them with any other medicine.