Influenza is an airborne, viral infection affecting the respiratory system. It is caused by Influenza virus and is very contagious. It is commonly termed as Flu. Unlike other infections like cold, influenza is more severe and is one of the most common respiratory infections caused by virus.
There are three types of Influenza virus namely Type A, Type B and Type C. These are the virus strain.
The Type A infection is more severe as compared to the Type B and Type C infection. Type A influenza virus spreads mostly through aquatic birds. It infects domestic poultry animals and causes pathogenesis in humans. The A virus strain is very deadly and may lead to severe conditions.
Influenza B virus infects humans exclusively. This infection is relatively less severe and less common than type A infection.
Influenza C virus is the least common among type B and type C virus strains and infects dogs, pigs and humans.
How Long Does Influenza Last?
The Influenza virus takes an average of 2-4 days to incubate in healthy adults and the infection lasts for 4-5 days approximately. The infection is very contagious and may infect the other healthy person even before developing the flu sign and symptoms.
The sensitivity, duration and severity of infections depend on the person’s immunity and exposure to other respiratory pathogens. Hence, children and elderly population are more prone to the infection.
The infection generally resolves in a week; however, symptoms like cough and malaise can persists for more than two weeks in children.
Etiology of Influenza
Influenza infection is contagious and spreads through respiratory droplets by sneezing and coughing. Therefore, getting in physical contact with infected person may cause Influenza.
- Eating contaminated food like infected poultry meat
- Contaminated water
- Sporadic inhalation of infected virus
- Touching any infected surface contaminated by infected person
- People with low immunity
- Infected public places.
How to Know if you have Influenza?
The signs and symptoms which indicate if you have influenza include:
- Fever and chills
- Headache and body aches
- Sore throat and nasal congestion
- Loss of appetite followed by weight loss
- May present abdominal pain and chest tightness
- Nausea and vomiting
- Dizziness and discomfort.
The Influenza Type A infection, can lead to severe medical conditions like viral pneumonia; trigger or exacerbate ongoing cardiac or pulmonary conditions leading to asthma, cardiac failure, bronchiolitis etc. This can cause secondary bacterial respiratory infections and may activate the other bacterial or viral pathogens in the body.
In children, the infection can turn fatal and may cause hospitalization. Many surveys have presented the data that stays the infected children have been observed to suffer with seizures and bacterial sepsis with high fever.
What is the Treatment for Influenza?
It is very important and highly recommended to take Flu/Influenza vaccine to avoid getting infection. It is advisable to vaccinate before winter. Influenza virus strain evolves frequently, hence it is recommended to get vaccinated twice a year. This vaccine is also called as Flu shots and can be taken by any age group people like adults, elderly age and children. Pregnant women are also safe to take the vaccines. It is important to take the following steps to manage and treat influenza:
Maintenance of personal hygiene is very crucial to avoid influenza like contagious infections. Proper hand washing and avoiding close contact with infected people would be beneficial.
The world health Organization has performed various studies and concluded that Type A virus causing influenza may get fatal and has increased incidence of developing viral pneumonia. So, complete bed rest is advisable. IV fluids are administered if needed.
- Anti- viral therapy is given to treat the viral infection.
- Pain medications for abdominal pain are recommended.
- Drinking enough water and plenty hydration helps in fast recovery from influenza.
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