Influenza or flu is a virus that affects the throat, lungs, nose and bronchial tubes. One of the ideal ways to reduce the risk of acquiring the flu is to get the flu vaccination yearly. Always bear in mind that the flu virus spreads easily from one individual to the next. Those who acquire the flu will end up with symptoms that typically last for 1-2 weeks.
Types of flu viruses
There are three types of flu viruses – A, B and C. It is important to note that type A is divided into subtypes and strains. The type B is only divided into strains. Both influenza and influenza B are the types that are capable of causing seasonal epidemics every year. In addition, both have a vaccine available. As for influenza C, it does not have a vaccine yet since it is not known to cause epidemics.
You have to do be ready once the flu season draws near. Remember that millions of individuals all over the world acquire the flu yearly. The flu season typically peaks from November up to April but the virus has the tendency to mutate or change. Oftentimes, the change is slight and any antibodies from the previous exposure to the flu along with regular flu vaccinations can provide enough protection.
Nevertheless, every 10 years on average, the virus can drastically change. At this point, a widespread outbreak of severe cases of flu can occur which is called an epidemic. In case the epidemic spreads all over the world, it is called a pandemic.
Flu signs and symptoms
Always watch out for the signs and symptoms of the flu virus especially during the flu season. The following are the usual indications of the flu:
- Sudden sore throat
- Sneezing episodes
- Runny nose
Always remember that the key is the sudden nature of the symptoms. The other symptoms of flu include fatigue, dry cough, diarrhea, weakness, vomiting, chills, sweats, nasal congestion, fever and muscle aches and pains.
What are the possible complications?
It is vital to be aware of the potential complications of the flu virus. Take note that there are cases of deaths every year due to the flu. Individuals who have the flu especially those who are high risk must get a flu vaccine yearly and treated promptly by a doctor if developing flu symptoms in order to reduce the risk for developing pneumonia, bacterial infections and/or encephalitis.
High-risk individuals include infants, pregnant women, young children, elderly, healthcare workers, childcare workers, those who have chronic illnesses, those with immune deficiencies and individuals in nursing homes.
Available treatment options
Adequate rest and increasing the intake of fluids are the usual modes of treatment for mild cases of flu. Chicken soup and pain medications are also recommended. On the other hand, there are also anti-viral medications that can be prescribed by the doctor to manage some cases of the flu.