The Flu And How To Fight It

  • 4 Mins read
  • Health Conditions
  • Written by: Dr. Pramod Mane
Everything you need to know about the Flu

When someone with influenza coughs, sneezes, or talks, they send tiny droplets of the flu into the air. Inhaling these droplets or coming into contact with objects that carry the virus can cause the spread of influenza.

People carrying the virus are likely to be contagious from the day before the symptoms first appear. The number of days that one remains contagious depends on your immune system. People with weakened immune systems and children may carry the virus for a slightly longer time.

COVID-19 vs. Flu

Covid-19 and the Flu are respiratory illnesses that spread in similar ways; however, they are both caused by different viruses. The chance of severe and critical infection is higher with COVID-19 than the flu. When you have the flu, you may not require medical treatment. However, there are antiviral drugs that help fight the virus and reduce symptoms by 1-2 days. Currently, COVID-19 vaccines have been launched and approved world-over, with vaccination camps set up across various countries around the globe. For mild cases of COVID-19, a person can remain home and practice social distancing to avoid the spread. Doctors may even prescribe antipyretics to help your fever subside. Severe cases may need to be hospitalized as supplemental oxygen and ventilation maybe required to help treat respiratory difficulties.

Causes of the flu

New strains of influenza viruses appear regularly, making it a virus that is constantly changing. If you have had influenza in the past, your body will create the antibodies required to fight that strain of the virus. For every new strain, your body adapts differently. Fighting the disease or proper vaccination can help your body create antibodies that may fight the infection, lessen its severity, and prevent its occurrence in the future.

Symptoms

The onset of the flu is very similar to the common cold. Symptoms include a runny nose, sneezing, coughing, and a sore throat. However, colds usually develop slowly but the flu is more sudden. And while a cold can be a nuisance, the flu generally makes you feel much worse. Common signs of the flu include sweats and chills, high fever, aching muscles, and joint pain, dry persistent cough, sore throat, Diarrhea and vomiting in children, and headaches.

Remedies

When it comes to fighting the flu, hydration is key. Drink plenty of liquids, juices and warm soups. Water will also help you flush out bodily toxins as well as reduce viral load. Drink enough water to ensure that your urine is either clear or pale yellow. Also, get more sleep as this helps your immune system fight infection. You can use pain relievers to curb muscle pain, however, remember that pain relievers only combat pain and won’t cure your symptoms. Be extra careful about medicating children.

Antibiotics do not work for viral infections like coughs, colds, sore throats and flu. Moreover, self-medication and overuse of antibiotics can cause side effects such as antibiotic resistance where bacteria and fungi can develop the defenses to fight the drugs that are designed to kill them.

Prevention

Since the influenza vaccine isn’t 100 percent effective, and the flu is a constantly changing virus, it is important to take measures to prevent it by yourself in order to reduce the spread of the infection.

Wash your hands as it is the most effective way to prevent the flu and common infections. Use alcohol-based hand sanitizers as an alternative if soap and water aren’t readily available.

When you sneeze or cough, make sure to cover your nose and mouth. Most people use a tissue, a mask, or sneeze into the inner crook of the elbow to avoid contaminating their hands.

Avoid crowds as much as possible since flu spreads easily wherever people congregate. During peak flu season, crowded places increase your chances of catching the infection. Alternatively, if you’re showing signs of the flu, stay at home until your fever subsides to avoid infecting others.

When to see a doctor

If you have a risk of complications and you’re showing flu-like symptoms, get medical help right away. Children and people with weakened immune systems may require medication to fight the virus more effectively.

Sometimes, viral infections leave your body more susceptible to bacterial infections and a ‘secondary infections’. To identify if a viral infection is now a bacterial infection you need to monitor if your symptoms have changed, if they persist for over 10-14 days or if your fever hasn’t subsided or if it has worsened. Cough with yellow mucus, sore throat, ear infections and pneumonia are some symptoms of bacterial infections. See a doctor immediately if these symptoms arise.

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