Flu is produced by the very contagious Influenza virus. There are three main types of virus: A, B and C. It is usually the type A (like H1N1) that causes the worse epidemics. They are transmitted by coughing and sneezing, but also by skin contact (shaking hands with someone who covers the nose when coughing).
The following symptoms begin quite suddenly after an incubation period of one to four days.
• high fever
• muscle aches
• prostration (feeling extreme weak and tired)
• dry cough, runny nose or sore throat are sometimes associated.
The symptoms continue for a week.
Complications (middle ear infections, pneumonia,..) are possible, especially, in the elderly, in those with immunosuppressant or in patients with chronic diseases (chronic airways disease, etc.). In these cases the symptoms tend to persist more than 10 days. Sometimes appear new ones: shortness of breath, earache, pain in your face, etc.
Flu is not a cold! There are more than 100 different viruses that can cause a cold. They often start more gradually with tiredness and runny nose, productive cough, etc. The fever and headache are milder than in the Flu.
Living a healthy life style helps.
In practice, keeping clear of people who are coughing or sneezing. Washing your hands thoroughly.
VACCINATION against influenza is generally effective and safe.
It is especially recommended to those over 60, those with chronic diseases, or those who are more exposed, hospital workers, teachers, travellers in transcontinental airplanes, etc.
Children’s vaccinations schemes of some countries are including flu, as children like elderly are the most vulnerable. In many cases (up to 50% of cases), flu complicates into pneumonia or otitis media.
Advert reactions are uncommon and mild. It should not be given to people who are allergic to eggs and women who are pregnant.
TREATMENT (FLU or colds)
Stay at home - in a well ventilated room- and REST.
Drink plenty of fluids: water, fruit juices
Do not drink alcohol or smoke.
Avoid close contact with people, specially, children or chronic ill.
Analgesics can relieve the headache and muscle aches. Take them especially in regular basis. Nasal decongestants. Steam inhalations. Antitussives (if you have a dry cough).
Gargle with warm salted water a few times a day to relieve a sore throat. Use salt water drops to help to loosen mucus.
A new drug oseltamivir Tamiflu® or zanamivir Relenza® may be effective for the treatment of flu, only when taken in the first 48 hours. It can also be used as prophylaxis to prevent the spread of the infection within a family.