Facts About the Flu 

Facts About the Flu 

November is fast approaching, meaning the flu season is about to begin. The Center for Disease Control has advised everyone aged six months and older to get the annual flu vaccination before the end of November, whether as a vaccine or nasal spray.

Why the annual flu vaccination? Well, according to the CDC, new influenza viruses emerge every year, and this is no different. Although our bodies develop antibodies for the previous virus strains, they can’t protect us from the new ones hence the need for a vaccine.

What are the flu and its causes?

The flu or influenza is an infection that affects the respiratory system. Often the flu is confused with a cold, but the two could are different. For instance, a cold develops gradually, while the flu attacks the body instantly, and the symptoms are accompanied by a fever.

Influenza is highly contagious and spreads through coughs and sneezes. Affected adults are contagious two days before the symptoms appear and seven days after they become ill.

As aforementioned, the influenza virus causes the flu and affects the respiratory system.

There are three types of influenza virus; Virus A & B that cause seasonal epidemics in the United States and Europe and virus C that causes mild respiratory illness.

How Long Does a Flu Last?

Flu symptoms disappear on their own, and for people with mild flu symptoms, they last from three to seven days, although at times, the symptoms can last for eight weeks.

Flu shots reduce the severity of the symptoms but don’t eliminate the risk of the infection. Infants and seniors may have symptoms lasting for more than eight weeks and are at risk of serious flu complications such as breathing difficulties.

Flu complications like asthma don’t resolve on their own, and you may be required to seek emergency care near you to prevent further complications.

Flu symptoms

Unlike the cold, flu symptoms occur suddenly in just a few hours, and the fever is the first to appear.

Other common flu symptoms include:

  • Congestion
  • Chills and aches
  • Headaches
  • Body weakness and extreme fatigue
  • Dry coughs and sore throat
  • Vomiting

These symptoms will worsen between the second and fourth days. Although you might feel better after the fifth day, it’s important to stay home for 24 hours after the flu symptoms.

Treatment

Antiviral flu drugs are the most effective treatment for the flu, and it should be taken within the first two days to reduce the duration and avoid complications.

Antivirals are ideal for patients aged 12 years and older and those who have symptoms less than 48 hours after flu onset.

Pain relievers medication can alleviate headaches and body pains.

Home remedies can also help reduce symptoms:

  • Get plenty of rest to allow your body recuperate
  • Keep warm
  • Drink water, soups, juices, and electrolyte beverages to balance the body fluids
  • Avoid smoking and alcohol
  • Use humidifiers to clear up nasal congestion

Prevention

According to the CDC, 200,000 people in America visit the hospital with hospital complications every year, and 36,000 of them die as a result of flu complications.

Health experts advise that the single best way to protect yourself is flu vaccination. Two vaccination types are available; the flu shot and the nasal spray vaccine.

The seasonal flu shot contains three Influenza viruses; Influenza (H3N2), influenza (H1N1), and one B virus and is being recommended for all people, including infants and people with chronic diseases.

However, seasonal flu is not suitable for:

  • Individuals with chicken egg allergy as flu vaccine contain mild chicken protein
  • People who have severe vaccination reaction before
  • Children under six months

Though the influenza vaccine is highly recommended, it’s not 100 percent effective. So, it is important to take extra preventive measures.

  • Wash your hands or use alcohol-based sanitizers frequently to prevent infections. The flu spreads by touching an infected person.
  • Avoid crowded places during the flu season—October to January, to reduce your chances of getting infected.
  • Contain your sneezes and coughs by covering your mouth and nose to avoid contaminating your hands.

Take Care

Flu symptoms last between three to seven days, and if complications arise, they may take longer. So, take flu seriously as they are and protect yourself. Get the flu shot, have enough rest, and hydrate often. If you develop flu complications, come for an assessment at the New Braunfels Emergency Care.