Seasonal influenza is a disease that can be potentially fatal if it is not treated on time. This is an infection-based ailment that can affect people differently in different seasons. Let us find out more about the symptoms, treatment and vaccination for this viral infection.
Symptoms: Those suffering from this sickness will usually experience rapidly rising temperature and fever along with chills and body ache. It will also cause a cough and sore throat which will hurt even while eating and gulping fluids. A runny nose is also a common symptom of this condition along with headaches. Vomiting and loose motions will also be experienced by the patients, especially children.
Complications and onset: The onset of this condition happen with the transfer of droplets in a person’s cough or sneeze. If you are in close physical contact with someone who is already suffering from this condition, then getting exposed to these droplets when a person sneezes or coughs can lead to the spread of the disease. This is a contagious condition that usually calls for immediate hospitalisation so that it may be treated properly under due medical intervention. This condition may also cause bacterial pneumonia as well as other potentially fatal conditions like heart failure, extreme sinus infection and dehydration. Also, it may give rise to other ailments like diabetes and asthma in the long run.
Prevention: One of the most important ways of preventing this condition is with the help of the influenza vaccine. This vaccine is usually taken once a year so that you are protected against an entire cycle of 12 months, which includes various seasonal changes.
The vaccine: The seasonal influenza vaccine is usually administered to newborn babies every few months. As the child grows older, the vaccine may be administered once every six months or once a year, eventually. Adults must also take this vaccine at least once a year. This is because the immunity of an infant will be more delicate than the immunity of a growing child and adult. This vaccine must be administered by a doctor only.
Facts about the vaccine: With the help of this vaccine, the antibody production in the body is encouraged. This leads to protection when it comes to a variety of infections. The viruses contained in the vaccine are known to protect the body against four kinds of infectious viruses. There are various kinds of this vaccine, including the standardised dose that contains trivalent shots containing the virus that has been grown in an egg. The other kinds include the quadrivalent flu vaccine that is appropriate for various age groups. The former is usually given to infants and toddlers, while the latter is administered to adults.
Swine flu is a respiratory infection caused by a virus which usually infects pigs. The virus is highly contagious and can survive in the environment for days. It is not unusual for people to get the infection. Swine flu is transmitted from person to person by inhalation or ingestion of droplets containing virus from people sneezing or coughing; it is not transmitted by eating cooked pork products. The symptoms of swine flu are similar to those of common flu-like fever, sore throat, cough, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue.
What is the flu?
The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza virus. This illness also called as seasonal influenza (earlier called as swine flu) in india that is caused by various types of flu viruses such as influenza a h1n1, h3n2, influenza b etc.
Do people in india get the flu?
Yes. Many people in india get the flu each year; mostly in winter and rainy seasons. According to ncdc, 15266 people got flu during last year; among those 1113 people died due to severe illness.
How does the flu spread?
Seasonal flu can spread from person to person by infected droplets released while coughing, sneezing or talking. People may also catch flu by touching their mouth or nose after touching something with the virus like door knobs, tables or with hand shake of infected person.
How do you know if you got the flu?
You may develop following symptoms when you have flu like illness:
• sore throat
• runny/stuffy nose
• body aches
• head ache
Some people may have vomiting and diarrhoea. Some people may have only respiratory symptoms without fever.
How sick do people get with the flu?
Most people with the flu get better without medications or visiting a doctor. Many will recover after a mild illness. However, some people can get very sick from the flu and some even can die from the disease.
Who may get more serious flu related illness/ complications?
If you have a high risk factor listed below and develops flu symptoms, it’s possible for otherwise healthy people to develop severe illness.
Many of the people who get very sick are:
• children younger than 5 years
• people 65 years and older
• pregnant women (and women up to 2 weeks postpartum)
• residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities
• people who have chronic lung diseases (such as asthma, copd, ild etc.), diabetes mellitus, neurologic conditions such as stroke, heart disease, blood disorders, kidney disorders, liver disorders, weakened immune system such as people with hiv or aids, or cancer, or those on chronic steroids), adults with extreme obesity.
What should you do if you get flu?
If you get flu symptoms, stay home and avoid contact with other people as much as possible for at least 1 day after your fever gone; except to seek medical care. Take fever medications. Drink plenty of liquids. Eat nutritious food.
When should you seek medical care?
There are “emergency warning signs” that should signal anyone to seek medical care urgently. • difficulty in breathing • pain or pressure in the chest/abdomen • sudden dizziness, confusion, inability to arouse • seizures • not urinating • severe weakness or unsteadiness • blood in sputum • bluish colour in nails • fever or cough that improve but then return with fever or worse cough
Who should undertake laboratory test to diagnose flu?
Laboratory testing is required for only hospitalized patients. Your doctor can assess and advice regarding this.
Are there medicines to treat flu?
Yes. Anti-viral drugs can be used to treat the flu. Most people who get sick get better without any antiviral medications. But, if you need help getting well, your doctor may decide to give you these medications.
What should you do to protect yourself from getting flu?
“3 step approach” will help you protect from flu.
Step 1: flu vaccination (flu shot)
• every one (6 months or older) should get a flu vaccine every year before flu activity begins in their community preferably by the end of october.
• it’s safe to get a flu vaccine during pregnancy. It will not only decrease the risk of getting flu during pregnancy, but also protects the child for several months after birth.
Step 2: take everyday preventive actions to stop the spread of virus
• stay away from sick people who have flu symptoms.
• wash your hands often with soap and water; if not available with alcohol based hand rub.
• cover your nose and mouth while coughing or sneezing with handkerchief.
• avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth.
• avoid crowded places.
Step 3: take flu antiviral drugs if your doctor prescribes them
• antiviral drugs can make illness milder and shorten the time of sickness. They can also prevent serious flu complications, like pneumonia/respiratory failure.
• antiviral drugs are different from antibiotics. They are prescription medicines and are not available over-the-counter.
During pregnancy, flu (influenza) can impose serious health implications for both the mother and the child. Due to pregnancy, the risk of developing complications like pneumonia are very high, which can pose as a problem during childbirth. Miscarriage, low birth weight, premature birth are some of the major issues, which might develop if the mother has suffered from flu during her pregnancy. Although flu vaccination during pregnancy has certain risks, it has been observed that in most cases the benefits of inactivated influenza vaccine outweigh the risks. However, Live attenuated influenza vaccine is not recommended at all during pregnancy.
Recommendations across the world suggest that prevention of influenza by administration of inactivated influenza vaccine is the best intervention in pregnancy. The vaccine for Flushould be administered before the onset of flu season. RANZCOG, NHS UK, RCOG, FOGSI recommends inactivated flu vaccine for all the pregnant women unless there are any contraindications.
Taking inactivated influenza vaccine can be beneficial in multiple ways:
1. Prevents maternal complications: During pregnancy, the heart and lungs go through extra stress. Pregnancy can also severely impact your immune system. Opting for a inactivated flu vaccine can decrease significantly, the chance of falling severely ill due to flu.
2. Prevents pregnancy problems due to flu: Getting infected by flu during pregnancy can increase the chance of miscarriage during childbirth. Administering inactivated flu shots can prevent miscarriage as well as premature birth and low birth weight.
3. Protects the baby after birth: Infants have a huge risk of getting infected with flu after birth. But as vaccines cannot be administered to them until they are 6 months old, it is the best recourse to opt for inactivated flu shots during pregnancy as the antibodies pass onto the child from the mother via placenta. The child can hence be protected from such diseases.
Often, one fear about the vaccine, is the development of Gullain Barre syndrome. This is very rare and the risk of GBS are higher following influenza like illness. Also, if the patient is allergic to eggs they are advised to consult a physician. Flu vaccines have traces of egg protein in it. Certain precautions are taken after studying the patient's medical history. The doctor may keep the patient under observation. Or in certain instances the physician might suggest alternative flu vaccine, which do not contain egg protein. Physicians decide it after studying any prior allergic reaction.
As per the WHO SAGE position paper, from 1990 to 2009 the vaccine adverse event reporting system database in USA reported only 20 serious adverse events following administration of trivalent influenza vaccine to an estimated 11.8 million pregnant women.
Are you experiencing symptoms of flu, such as a cough, sore throat, fever, body aches and headaches? Are you feeling sick around your stomach and throwing up more than usual? This indicates you have H1N1 flu or swine flu. Swine flu is a form of influenza that affects pigs, or a form of human influenza that is caused by a related virus.
It is difficult to tell whether you have got swine flu or seasonal flu, as the associated symptoms are similar. There are a few different symptoms. A laboratory test is hence required for the detection of swine flu. Sometimes, a rapid flu test taken in a doctor’s chamber is not enough for the proper diagnosis of swine flu.
For swine flu testing, a swab is taken by a doctor from the insides of your nose and the back of your throat. This test is usually taken by people who are living in hospitals or are at a high risk of death because of life-threatening conditions, because of swine flu. Children below the age of 6, people above the age of 65, and children taking aspirin therapy are more likely to develop swine flu. Adults or children suffering from lung, blood, liver and nervous system disorders are also prone to swine flu. Pregnant women and people with a weak immune system are also susceptible to swine flu.
Several antiviral drugs, which are used to treat seasonal flu, are used to treat swine flu as well. However, some drugs prescribed for seasonal flu do not respond to swine flu. Using these medicines enables faster treatment and also makes the patient feel better. You must take the medicines within 48 hours of observing the first swine flu symptom. They are also effective when given at a later stage. Antibiotics do not treat swine flu as the flu itself is caused by a virus and not by a bacterium.
Certain over-the-counter (OTC) painkillers and medicines for cold and flu may also help in relieving aches, fever and pain. Abstain from giving aspirin to patients below the age of eighteen as it could lead to Reye’s syndrome. You can prevent yourself from getting swine flu by taking a vaccine. The same flu vaccine, which prevents seasonal flu, also protects the H1N1 swine flu strain. This can be taken in the form of a shot or a nasal spray.
Therefore, the remedial measures for blocked nose vary, depending on the cause that led to it. Some of the ways by which you can redress this problem are:
1. Use a humidifier
Sinusitis is often held responsible for a clogged nose, a condition that is almost always accompanied by severe pain. In such a situation, placing a humidifier in a room proves to be extremely beneficial. This machine treats blocked nose by converting the water to moisture. This fills up the room and significantly increases the humidity of the room. Therefore when you breathe, the humid air soothes the inflamed blood vessels in the nose and helps you to breathe properly.
2. Take a hot shower
When you find it difficult to breathe, a quick hot shower can go a long way in curing the discomfort. The logic that operates is the steam generated from the hot shower thins the mucus and also considerably reduces the inflammation in the nose, allowing you to breathe normally.
3. Drink lots of water
Though the suggestion may seem incredible, drinking water actually helps in un-blocking that blocked nose. When you drink a lot of water, the mucus in the nostrils is thinned, at the same time it pushes back the accumulated fluids, thereby curbing the condition of blocked nose.
4. Using a saline spray
This is one of the most ancient and trusted ways of treating blocked nose. By administering a saline or a nasal spray, the moisture in your nostrils increases and radically diminishes the inflammation.
5. Use warm compresses
Using a warm compress has been the most reliable form of medication in times of high temperature and also at times of blocked nose. The compress that was dipped in hot water, when placed on the nose and forehead helps to unblock the nasal passages. The soothing effect of the warm compresses reduces the inflammation and facilitates the process of breathing.