Flu is the common name for Influenza which is the illness of the respiratory system and muscles caused by a virus.
Influenza is an air-borne disease which is transmitted by coughing or sneezing, creating aerosols containing the virus, and through hand-to-eye, hand-to-nose, or hand-to-mouth transmission, either from contaminated surfaces or from direct personal How To Be Healthy And Happy contact such as a hand-shake. It can also be transmitted by direct contact with bird droppings or nasal secretions or contaminated surfaces. The risk of influenza viruses can be inactivated or reduced by sunlight, disinfectants and detergents.
Influenza is known as a seasonal epidemic and is most active in winter. It results in deaths around 250000-500000 people every year and the figure increases in pandemic years. The influenza virus can be divided into 3 types, Influenza virus A, Influenza virus B and Influenza virus C, of which, types A and B are associated with causing epidemics of respiratory illness.
Though influenza is confused with common cold, it should not be taken lightly. Symptoms like fever and extreme coldness (chills shivering, shaking), cough, nasal congestion, body aches, especially joints and throat, fatigue, headache, irritated red and watery eyes; in children, symptoms such as diarrhea and abdominal pain should be watched out for.
Influenza can be cured with vaccination, often suggested for the high risk groups such as children, elderly people, expecting mothers or who have asthma, diabetes, heart disease or weak immunity. Influenza vaccines are commonly produced by growing the virus in fertilized hen eggs and after purification, the virus is inactivated to produce vaccines.
Influenza patients should increase liquid intake, take plenty of rest, avoid using alcohol and tobacco and, if necessary, take medications such as paracetamol to relieve the fever and muscle aches associated with the flu. Warm showers and warm compresses, especially in the nasal area, can reduce the body aches and reduce nasal congestion. Nasal strips and humidifiers may help reduce congestion, especially while trying to sleep. Children and teenagers with flu symptoms should medically avoid taking aspirin during an influenza infection and as influenza is caused by a virus, antibiotics have no effect on the infection.
“Prevention is better than cure” goes the old saying, and so, it is better to take preventive measures for the influenza virus. As the virus can be inactivated by soap, frequent hand washing reduces the risk of infection. Good personal health and hygiene, alcohol-based hand-rubs, surface sanitizing with alcohol and diluted chlorine bleach, avoiding spitting, less contact with sick people and staying home in sickness are some of the preventive measures.
Influenza virus also attacks the respiratory system of birds and animals. The bird flu, also known as avian influenza, is an infection caused by avian influenza A. This virus is not the one that causes SARS. This virus causes dog flu, horse flu or equine flu and swine flu and is also seen in cats and ferrets.
Influenza vaccination is not only a must for humans but also for animals Health Awareness Program and birds. Awareness of timely vaccination can prevent an epidemic.