Overview Of Infectious Diseases: Influenza

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Influenza is commonly referred to as Flu. It is a viral airborne disease. Influenza attacks the respiratory system – nose, throat and lungs. The symptoms are usually self resolving for most patients, however there are fatal risks among young children and elderly individuals.

Risk Groups

  • Young children under age of 5 and mostly those below 12 months old.
  • Adults above 65 years of age
  • Pregnant women
  • Immunocompromised individuals
  • Obese individuals
  • People with chronic illnesses
  • Residents of nursing homes

Symptoms

The progression may start suddenly and develop in a day. It starts as a common cold, running nose, sneezing and sore throat. Here below are some of the symptoms, which can be mild, moderate or severe:

  • Fever and chills
  • Cough
  • Nasal congestion, running nose and sore throat
  • Fatigue and headache
  • Petechial rash
  • In children; vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain

You should seek immediate medical attention when experiencing any of the following symptoms: shortness of breath, chest pain, dizziness, confusion, extreme vomiting, high fever and rash.

Currently there is an ongoing Coronavirus Disease outbreak (COVID-19), that started in China but has spread rapidly to other countries. Its initial presentation can be similar to the flu. The coronavirus affects the upper respiratory tract as well. In severe cases, the lower respiratory tract is affected too and patients develop a severe cough, high fever and difficulty in breathing. To prevent infection, basic protective measures should be observed: thorough and regular hand washing, covering the mouth when sneezing or coughing, avoiding contact with obviously sick people.

Prevention

  • Avoid crowds
  • Wash your hands
  • Contain your sneeze and cough

See the infographic below for more details on prevention

Symptomatic Treatment

There is no cure for the common cold. Symptomatic treatment will help your immune system to fight the virus. Here are the best practices to ease symptoms;

  • Rest: you need adequate time to rest in a warm environment.
  • Stay Hydrated: drink enough liquids, a warm ginger tea helps. Avoid alcohol and caffeine.
  • Pain and fever: over the counter medications helps, avoid aspirin for children under 12 years of age.
  • Food: eat a well balanced diet, it is essential for a complete and fast recovery.

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