Influenza is one of the most common upper respiratory tract infections all over the world. It is severe but relatively brief virus infection which is highly contagious. The disease is caused by group of viruses called influenza A, B, C. The organs affected are nose, throat and lungs.
Influenza is the same disease which people call it as flu. Epidemics of influenza generally occur in the winter season. The onset is abrupt; it reaches its peak within 2 to 3 weeks and lasts for 2 to 3 months. Though influenza virus can affect anyone, children and people of elderly age group are more vulnerable to this infection.
People having low immune status are the victims of this disease. Both the mentioned ages have low immune level as compared to young adults. Besides people having low immune level as in case of HIV infection and cancer, those who are constantly taking immunosuppressive drugs and steroids are at greater risk of suffering from influenza, especially when there is an epidemic.
Influenza is spread by droplets from sneeze and coughs. It is not a serious health condition and majority of people get cured within a week or few days. However, sometimes the disease can linger on for weeks or it can reappear after few months.
Few people may suffer from complications arising from influenza; they are pneumonia, ear infection, bronchitis etc. The risk of complication is greater in elderly and chronically ill patients.
What Are The Causes Of Influenza?
Influenza is spread from one person to another through droplets in the air when an infected person sneezes or coughs. The virus then makes an entry into a healthy person through the inhaled air. The infection can also spread when a healthy individual touches objects and material used by an infected person; for example common sharing of dining utensils. The virus also spreads fast among people living in crowded places.
There are three types of influenza virus namely influenza A, B and C. Of this influenza A virus causes extensive and severe outbreaks. Influenza B virus causes less severe outbreaks and it is mostly found in school going children and military camps. Influenza C virus rarely causes disease in humans. These viruses have unlimited ability to mutate into different forms. So while it is true that a bout with one strain gives person immunity, its mutant variety can affect the person any other time.
Common Influenza Symptoms
- The first symptom which often develops suddenly is fever with chills. Temperature rises to 102 to 103 degree Fahrenheit. Fever lasts for first two to three days.
- Other early symptoms are prostration and severe body aches and pains. They are more pronounced in back and legs. Headache is common and is accompanied with sensitivity to light.
- Respiratory symptoms are running nose, sneezing, sore throat, burning below the breast bone, non productive cough. Respiratory symptoms become more prominent as systemic symptoms settle. They last longer.
- Fatigue, weakness and excessive sweating may persist for several days or sometimes several weeks after other symptoms have gone.
Natural Home Remedies To Treat Flu
Antibiotics have no role in treatment of influenza as the disease is caused by a virus. Generally influenza gets cured within one week even without any treatment. However, home remedies and symptomatic treatment may become helpful to reduce the intensity of symptoms and early resolution of the disease.
Drinking enough amount of water and taking adequate rest, preferably bed rest is most effective for treating influenza. Following home remedies and tips will be useful in treating influenza.
- Stay at home and take complete bed rest. Since flu is infectious disease it is necessary for a person to stay at home and prevent the spread of disease to others.
- Drink plenty of water and liquids. Fluids prevent dehydration because of fever. In addition fluids also provide nutrition necessary as patient is too sick to eat food. Thin soups, fruit and vegetable juices are good during this period.
- Tap water sponging over the body will bring fever to normal.
- Salt water gargling is beneficial to relieve sore and scratchy throat which is apt to accompany influenza.
- Soak your feet in warm water to reduce headache and nasal congestion.
- A heating pad may be handy to reduce achy and tired muscles.
- Drink one cup of warm water mixed with honey and lime juice. Lime contains vitamin C, which enhances healing process. It also loosens the mucus in throat and lungs and facilitates its easy passage.
- Mix one teaspoon of honey and one teaspoon of onion juice. Drink it two times in a day till the temperature and sore throat subsides.
- Drink ginger tea. It is an effective remedy in treating influenza.
- Decoction of basil leaves brings immediate relief. Boil 1 gram of basil leaves in 1/2 liter of water. Boil till half the water is left and use the decoction.
- Turmeric prevents complications arising from influenza and removes sluggishness of the liver. A cup of warm milk with a teaspoonful of turmeric should be taken thrice a day.