Influenza, more commonly known as the flu is a virus that causes symptoms of differing severity. While some bounce back from the flu within a week others can face dangerous and serious complications. Some people recover in about a week, while others can be at risk of serious, life-threatening complications. The risk of complications also increases with age and those above 65 are the most vulnerable due to the weakening of their immune systems which in turn has their bodies struggling to fight the virus. Hence, if you or your loved one fall into this age group, here is a comprehensive guide to flu for you.
Flu symptoms develop quickly, approximately one to four days after one has been exposed to the virus. Flu symptoms are commonly mistaken for the common cold. However, the latter is typically milder and its symptoms occur gradually. If you fall ill, It is important to be able to differentiate the two to avoid confusion. Some symptoms the two have in common include a runny nose, congested airways, sore throat, and coughing. The flu on the other hand has these unique symptoms such as fever, chills, body aches, fatigue, weakness, headache, and chest discomfort. You ought to see a doctor if suffering from these symptoms if you fall under a vulnerable age group. A doctor is likely to prescribe anti-viral medication which can help decrease the severity of your illness and prevent complications.
Some common flu-related complications that are milder include sinus or an ear infection developing. However, complications can be extremely severe including bronchitis and pneumonia which impede the lung’s ability to function properly. Bronchitis occurs when the tubes that carry air to the lungs are inflamed leading to symptoms such as shortness of breath and coughing up of yellow or green mucus alongside chest pains. If bronchitis worsens, it can develop into pneumonia, an infection that causes the air sacs of the lungs to be inflamed. This can lower the body’s temperature and cause nausea and vomiting. If not treated quickly, pneumonia can let bacteria into the bloodstream causing organ failure. Moreover, it could also result in the accumulation of fluids in the lungs which affects breathing. Do see a doctor if you begin to experience any of the above symptoms.
How to Treat The Flu
There is no cure for the flu and the virus must be allowed to run its course. However, a doctor is likely to prescribe antiviral medication to help you recover quicker. While recovering, be sure to get sufficient rest so your immune system has the strength to fight off the virus. Antibiotics may also be prescribed if you experience other complications such as secondary infections of the ear or lungs.
Concluding, when it comes to the flu, prevention is indeed better than cure. It is highly recommended to get your annual flu vaccination, especially if you are above 65 and vulnerable. The vaccine can reduce your chances of getting the flu by more than 50%! The flu season usually lasts from October to May so you should get your vaccine before the end of October as it takes 2 weeks to take full effect. You should also get proper nutrition all year round and avoid crowded places to decrease your chances of getting the flu!