With the sinking temperatures reach us in the cold season, the annoying colds and the flu, which puts us out of action. In this article you know How Seasonal influenza is transmitted and what causes and symptoms it shows, how they can protect themselves and how a Seasonal influenza differs from common flu or cold?
Seasonal influenza is respiratory tract infection caused by so-called influenza viruses and is contagious. Flu season is in the months of October to April, the flu epidemic runs mostly in January and February. The Seasonal influenza is a highly contagious, sometimes dangerous disease caused by infections with influenza viruses.
The flu is considered dangerous because it severely weakens the immune system. In the body of those affected, bacteria can easily settle and spread (secondary infection). This is why flu often leads to complications (For example acute bronchitis, myocarditis, pneumonia) which can be life-threatening.
There are three different types of Seasonal influenza viruses:
Type A: Severe symptoms, occurring epidemically or even pandemically (worldwide) every two to three years. How well influenza type A viruses spread from person to person and how much they make them ill depends in particular on two proteins found in the virus envelope – hemagglutinin (H) and neuraminidase (N). From hemagglutinin 16 different variants are known (H1 to H16), of the neuraminidase nine (N1 to N9). The influenza virus type A H5N1 thus carries variant 5 of the hemagglutinin and variant 1 of the neuraminidase. Individual sub-types can often affect only a few specific living things. The largest reservoir for all type A influenza viruses is birds.
Type B: Type B influenza viruses are less likely to cause influenza than type A influenza viruses. Type B has no H / N sub types. It is less common in the animals and found only in humans and seals. Less severe symptoms, occurs every four to five years across Europe.
Type C: The mildest form, similar to common cold d flu. Type C influenza viruses can infect humans and pigs. They have no relevance to the flu, because they cause at most mild symptoms in humans.
Type D: This type of seasonal influenza virus only affects animals.
Avian flu (influenza A (H5N1)), also known as Avian influenza, is caused by a sub-type of the influenza A virus. This type of flu is treated as a separate disease.
Influenza is caused by influenza viruses of type A, B or C. Type A is more common and can spread pandemically. Type B and C occur less frequently and in a milder form.
There are certain risk factors and various risk groups of people who can catch the flu virus more quickly.
- Persons over 65 years.
- Medical and nursing staff, carers.
- People (including children) with a lot of human contact (For example in school, public transport or workplace).
- People (children and adults) with chronic heart disease or lung disease (asthma , heart failure , congenital heart disease), cystic fibrosis, chronic metabolic disorder (including diabetes), renal insufficiency, bronchitis, cystic fibrosis, pulmonary emphysema etc.
The time from infection to onset of first symptoms (incubation period) is a few hours to three days. The infected person can pass on the virus before he has complaints.
- Steep increase in fever with chills and / or sweats.
- Headache, muscle and body aches and Patient feels very ill.
- Dry cough , hoarseness , sore throat; This can also lead to pain behind the sternum
- Skin changes (e.g, cold sores).
- Also, bronchitis or conjunctivitis is possible.
- High, over three days persistent fever.
- Pain, stiffness in the neck, sensitivity to light can be an indication of another illness, e.g meningitis. This disease often starts like a normal flu.
- Febrile convulsions in children.
- Extreme drowsiness, Persistent diarrhea and abdominal pain.
According to scientific statistics, in 80% of cases, a flu goes unnoticed or as a mild cold. In only 20% of cases of influenza, serious symptoms occur. These can occur unexpectedly and suddenly.
Various examinations and clarifications are use for Seasonal influenza diagnosis. These include:
- Medical history including the symptoms; with a known viral epidemic, the diagnosis is usually fast
- Blood test, detection of antibodies to influenza virus in the blood confirms the diagnosis (but rarely done).
There are several medications available that inhibit and block viral replication. As the viruses multiply quickly (high risk of infection!), The therapy must be started within 48 hours after the onset of the disease. The medicines can reduce the intensity and duration of the discomfort as well as the frequency and severity of the complications.
Otherwise, the symptoms with fever and painkillers, cough and nose drops can be mitigated. The bacterial infections are treated with antibiotics. Persistent, high fever belongs to medical control. Mostly the flu stops after five to ten days. As long as complaints persist, other people can be infected.
There are some effective home remedies for seasonal influenza. Some effective and quick treatment home remedies are as fallows.
Inhaling frees the respiratory tract and relieves irritation of the mucous membranes. Thyme, eucalyptus, tea tree oil, peppermint oil or Japanese mint oil are suitable for this.
One of the best home remedies for flu is the consumption of hot chicken broth. This is nutritious, easy to drink (recommended for sore throat) and warms the body from the inside out.
Many different fruits and vegetables provide important vitamin C. This supports the immune system. Foods with a high vitamin C content include kiwis, beetroot, sauerkraut and oranges.
Dip towels lukewarm water and wrapped around the calves about 15 minutes. Used two to three times a day, these calf rolls can lower the fever.
Prevention and protection tips
The following preventive measures can therefore reduce the risk of seasonal influenza.
- Wash hands regularly with soap and warm water, do not forget about the fingertips, and finger gaps.
- Cough or sneeze in the crook of the arm or in a handkerchief. Use disposable handkerchiefs.
- While moaned or coughed yourself, turn your head away and hold your breath for a moment.
- Ventilate rooms regularly.
- To the extent possible avoid the stay with many people in tight closed spaces
- Touch nose, mouth, avoid eyes with hands. Minimize welcome kisses and shaking hands.
- Regular outdoor exercise, take balanced nutrition and sufficient sleep strengthen the immune system, which can then better fight viruses.
In addition, annual flu vaccine provides protection against seasonal influenza, and is especially recommended for risk groups.