“It is either the Flu or Love…. The symptoms are the same”
Charles M Schulz
Influenza, often referred as “Flu”, is a disease of the respiratory tract. It is caused due to the viral infection. It affects lungs, nose and throat. It is believed that the culprit virus that originated in the United States, was identified in military personnel in the spring of 1918. This happened around the end of World War I. It spread infecting about 500 million people or 1/3rd of the world population. With no vaccine to fight the Flu caused by the virus, and antibiotics to treat the side infection, resulted in huge loss of lives. It was a worldwide pandemic that lasted for approximately one year. The 1918 Flu pandemic was the most severe in recent history.
Since then we have heard about a few other deadly flu like the Spanish Flu, Asian Flu, H1N1 Swine Flu, Ebola Bird Flu and Flu due to Zika virus. And last, but not the least is the culprit Corona Novel virus which caused the disease Covid 19.
CoronaVirus, as we all saw, brought a major hit to the world in terms of lives, finances and jobs. The World Economy came to a stop with everything due to lockdown. We introduced the world with words like Social distancing, Quarantine, and with N95 Mask. Our lives would never be the same.
Flu is often confused with common cold which is also a contagious viral infection but both are caused by different viruses. Flu is worse than the common cold and so are its symptoms.
Symptoms of Flu
* Sore Throat
* Gastrointestinal Problem
FEVER: High fever is an immediate symptom, in case of Flu. According to Dr Madhu Saini, “A patient suffers with fever above 104 C, although this is not a fixed symptom of Flu.” Chills with or without fever are also common with a patient suffering from Flu. Acetaminophen like Paracetamol and Ibuprofen are used to treat the pain, but off course they cannot fight the virus. They can only give relief to the side effects like pain and other problems caused due to Flu.
SORE THROAT: A patient suffering from Flu may feel irritated, experience coughing and face problems in swallowing food. This makes it difficult for patients to have his daily diets which deteriorates his health further, making him weak. “Gargling with warm water, having a pinch of salt can work wonders for your throat”, says Dr. Madhu Saini, a physician based in Hisar, Haryana.
FATIGUE: Getting tired quickly without much physical work is also termed as fatigue. It is more severe in Flu than the common cold. Since Flu is more common in winters, shorter days and less sunlight enhances the tiredness of the body. The patient finds it difficult to perform his daily tasks and activities and often gets irritated due to it.
COUGH: This is another common symptom between common cold and Flu. If the Flu gets worsened, it may cause bronchitis and pneumonia. Coloured phlegm is another alert that your Flu is worsening. People with other respiratory tract problems like COPD and Asthma need to be more careful if suffering from Flu.
Gastrointestinal Problem: These problems occur when the flu infection crosses the respiratory tract and reaches the gastrointestinal area. The flu virus causes diarrhea, vomiting, stomach pain. Dehydration is again a critical result of vomiting and diarrhea. In such a case, the patient should take a lot of fluids, like coconut water, lemon water, salt water and commercially available rehydration salt solutions to restore the water loss. This also balances the pH level of stomach.
CAUSE: Flu is caused by Influenza Viruses. There are three types of Influenza virus: Type A, Type B, and Type C. It is the Type A virus which affects humans the most. Some people recover quickly while others can suffer from chronic health issues. Flu is highly contagious. It spreads by coming in contact with the person already suffering from the Flu or touching the objects used by the contaminated person. The virus is transferred through the tiny droplets when the patient coughs or sneezes.
“Prevention is better than Cure”
Prevention: The first line of prevention is self hygiene , washing hands frequently , avoiding the use of contaminated objects, maintaining distance from the patient. The person suffering should also avoid close contacts with others, wash hands frequently and use the handkerchief while coughing or sneezing. The patient should avoid touching eyes, nose and contaminated surfaces like door knobs, wooden handles and slabs etc. Increasing the immunity system and having a healthy diet decreases the chance of you suffering from Flu.
Cure: Intake of lots of fluids and complete bed rest are the only way suggested by the physicians as they believe that the body should fight alone against these viruses. Some doctors also suggest decongestants cough medication; non steroid anti-inflammatory drugs to fight the side effects of viral infection. Although now the vaccines are available for Flu which not only prevent the infection but also its complications; they are not much popular. These vaccines are recreated every year according to the strain of the virus affecting the atmosphere in the particular area. It is especially recommended for people suffering with serious illness diabetes, COPD, Asthma.
Antiviral drugs can also treat Flu illness. According to Dr. Madhu Saini, “The Antiviral shot is not much in practice, but with the increasing rate of infections, it should be a must in the vaccine calendar.” This will not only prevent the people who are more prone to it but also the general population being hit by the viral infection.