Influenza: Causes, Symptoms and How to Treat

What is influenza? Flu or influenza is a viral infection that attacks the respiratory system such as the nose, throat and lungs. Many people think that influenza is the same as a cold, even though both are caused by different types of viruses.

Causes of Influenza

After you get an explanation of what is meant by influenza, now is the time to find out the cause of influenza disease. Related to the previous definition of influenza, influenza is caused by a virus that spreads from person to person.

Flu sufferers who cough, sneeze, or talk, are at risk of spraying small drops. These drops can land on the mouths or noses of people around them. In rare cases, a person can catch the flu by touching the surface or objects contained in the flu virus, then touching the mouth, nose, or eyes.

Time of Transmission and Health Conditions

A person with the flu virus may be able to transmit it to others before symptoms first appear up to five days after symptoms begin. Children and people with weakened immune systems may experience the disease for longer.

If you have had influenza before, your body has made antibodies to fight certain types of viruses. If future influenza viruses are similar to what you have experienced before, antibodies can prevent infection or reduce its severity.

But antibodies to the flu virus that you have encountered in the past cannot protect you from new influenza subtypes, because in some cases influenza is a disease that is very different immunologically from what was experienced before.

Those At Risk Of Having Influenza

There are several factors that can increase your risk of influenza. The following are people who are at high risk of influenza, among others:

  • Age. Influenza disease tends to affect young children and elderly people.
  • Environmental conditions. Someone who lives or works in a facility with many residents, such as a nursing home or military barracks, is more likely to get influenza.
  • Weakened immune system. Those who are undergoing treatment for cancer, corticosteroids and suffering from HIV / AIDS can weaken the immune system. This condition can make a person more susceptible to influenza and can also increase the risk of experiencing complications.
  • Chronic disease. Chronic conditions, such as asthma, diabetes or heart problems, can increase the risk of influenza complications.
  • Pregnancy Pregnant women are more likely to experience influenza complications, especially in the second and third trimesters. Apart from being pregnant, a woman who has just given birth for two weeks is more likely to experience influenza-related complications.
  • Obesity. Someone whose BMI indicator shows 40 or more has an increased risk of complications from influenza.

Influenza Symptoms

Many people think influenza is something similar to a cold. Though influenza is something different from colds. Influenza tends to occur suddenly. Here are some common symptoms of influenza disease, including:

  • Fever more than 38 degrees Celsius.
  • Some body muscles ache.
  • Shivering and sweating.
  • Headache.
  • Cough is dry constantly.
  • The body feels weak.

In some cases, someone who has influenza does not need special treatment from a doctor. However, if you have influenza symptoms and are at risk of complications, see your doctor immediately. Consumption of antiviral drugs in the first 48 hours after symptoms appear can prevent more serious problems.

Influenza treatment

Keep in mind, because influenza is a disease caused by a virus, the use of antibiotics to treat influenza does not help, unless the flu has caused other diseases caused by bacteria.

Here are some steps that can be taken to deal with influenza, including:

1. Home Handling

  • Don’t travel, stay at home for some time.
  • If possible, avoid contact with others.
  • Keep your body temperature warm and multiply rest.
  • Take lots of fluids.
  • Avoid alcohol consumption.
  • Quit smoking.

2. Medicines

If home treatment does not help with influenza, your doctor may prescribe antiviral drugs such as oseltamivir (Tamiflu) or zanamivir (Relenza). If taken immediately after symptoms appear, this drug can shorten the disease by about a day or more and help prevent serious complications.

In addition, painkillers such as aspirin can also be consumed to relieve influenza. However, this drug is not suitable for consumption by children under 12 years.

Influenza Complications

Another important thing to know is that influenza can cause complications. Greater complications occur in those with bacterial pneumonia, ear infections, sinus infections, congestive heart failure, asthma, or diabetes.

Compared to other complications, pneumonia is the most serious complication. In those who are elderly and someone with chronic illness, pneumonia can be life-threatening.

Influenza Prevention

The first and most important step in preventing influenza is getting a vaccine. The flu vaccine has been proven to reduce flu-related illnesses and the risk of serious flu complications that can result in hospitalization to death.

Daily precautions such as not interacting with people who are sick, closing your mouth when coughing and sneezing, and washing your hands frequently, can help slow the spread of germs that cause influenza.

Meanwhile, people who are at high risk of becoming seriously ill due to influenza should get a flu shot once a year. People who are at high risk of becoming seriously ill due to influenza and should get a vaccine, if they have:

  • Lung disease.
  • Kidney illness.
  • Diabetes.
  • Heart problems.
  • Severe anemia.

Most types of flu vaccine contain small amounts of egg protein. If you have an egg allergy, it can cause itching. Whereas if you have a severe egg allergy, you must be vaccinated in a medical setting and supervised by a doctor who is able to recognize and manage severe allergic conditions.

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