Flu or influenza is defined as an infection brought about by a virus. This form of infection affects the entire body particularly the air passages and triggers symptoms that strikingly resemble the common cold.
The symptoms are usually worse than the symptoms of common cold, but it is difficult to distinguish between the two conditions without testing.
What is the cause?
The flu is brought about by a virus. Once the individual develops the flu, the virus is present in the saliva and mucus which easily spreads to others when sneezing or coughing.
The flu can also be acquired if an individual touch something with the flu virus on it and then touches the nose, mouth or eyes. The flu outbreaks typically occur yearly, typically in late fall and winter.
What are the signs?
The flu is likely to arise abruptly. The symptoms might vary for every individual. Some of the usual signs include:
- Fever and chills
- Sore throat
- Body aches
- Stuffed or runny nose
The symptoms typically last for 3-7 days. The individual will start to feel better after the initial 2 days or so.
Management of flu
Generally, the symptoms of flu can be managed at home with the following:
- Adequate rest
- Increasing the intake of fluids especially water, juice, broth, electrolyte solutions and non-caffeinated beverages.
- Medications such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen can be given to provide relief to the headache and muscle aches as well as lower the fever.
- If there is congestion of the nose or sinuses, a decongestant can be given.
- Cough medications or cough drops can momentarily control the coughing.
Antiviral drugs might be given to reduce the severity of the symptoms. These medications can be taken in oral form or as a nasal spray. The drugs are effective only if they are taken within the initial 2 days of the illness and taken for only a few days.