Influenza or what is commonly known as flu is a viral infection which is self limiting and often self treatable. The symptoms are headache, body ache, runny nose and cough. It does not require any special tests and the treatment is simple symptomatic therapies like Paracetamol and steam inhalation. Rest is most important during this period. The disease spreads easily and since the illnesss is common it can be a threat to others within close vicinity ie., an office, schools etc. More than 10 million Indians are affected every year.
In higher risk groups, like elderly and children it can lead to complications like pneumonia and high fever and may require hospitalization if not treated effectively at the early stages. Inspite of complete recovery cough can be prolonged.
There are three types of Influenzas, Type A, Type B and Type C. Vaccination is available but is not always effective.
The disease spreads through air and direct physical contact. This is another reason patient should be as isolated as practically possible. Washing hands frequently with soap helps in preventing spread of disease. Against the common notion, antibiotics cannot be used in the treatment of flu.
In majority of cases flu is not serious and passes of with simple medication and rest for a few days.
Risk of experiencing severe flu complications is higher in certain people:
- Over 65 yrs of age
- Babies or young children
- Pregnant women
- Individuals with heart or cardiovascular disease
- Those with asthma or bronchitis
- Those with kidney disease
- Individuals with diabetes
- People on steroids
- Individuals on cancer treatment
All forms of treatment for flu should begin at the earliest without allowing the condition to worsen and make the body weak.