Influenza, commonly known as the flu, is one of the oldest illnesses mankind has known. Symptoms were first recorded by Hippocrates twenty four hundred years ago. The Spanish flu epidemic of 1918 through 1919 has been described as the greatest medical holocaust in history, killing between fifty to one hundred million people worldwide. Sometimes the symptoms of influenza are mistaken for the common cold, but often the symptoms get much worse.
The RNA viruses of the Orthomyxoviride family are responsible for influenza. The viruses are most often transmitted through the air when someone sneezes, coughs, or talks. The virus can also be transmitted via objects that have come into contact with it, as well as saliva, blood, or the droppings of infected birds.
Signs and Symptoms
The signs that you have the flu can resemble the common cold, although they get much worse and last much longer. The common cold usually goes away after a couple of days, but the flu can last up to two weeks. It can last even longer and be quite deadly to the elderly, those who are chronically ill, and those with weakened immune systems.
The typical symptoms of influenza include the chills and a fever. Some individuals may become bedridden during their illness. Other symptoms that can occur include body aches, coughing and sneezing, fatigue, nasal congestion, headaches and watery eyes.
Getting Rid of the Flu
As with many viral infections, there is little to do but let the flu run its course. There are some things you can do to make the illness easier on you, try to shorten the amount of time you are ill, and generally maintain your health during the illness. For example, you can get plenty of rest so that your immune system can work against the virus. You should try to stay under warm blankets to sweat out the flu.
Another thing you should do is keep yourself hydrated with plenty of clear fluids. This is vitally important, because dehydration is often the cause of complications with the flu. Natural fruit juices like orange juice are packed with vitamin c that helps your body fight the infection. Drinking warm soup will also help, as it will warm up the body and provide clear fluids for hydration.
You should also be careful to manage stress and depression, as these things can lower your immune system and your body’s ability to fight the infection.
Finally, you should take medicines designed for combating the symptoms of influenza. Antiviral medications should be taken within two days of getting the flu. If used according to the directions you should be able to take a few days off the duration of the illness. You should, however, avoid Aspirin when you have the flu as it can cause deadly complications.
A pound of prevention is worth an ounce of cure, the saying goes. There are several things you can do to prevent staying in bed for a week with the flu. First, you should get your flu shot. You should get your vaccination in October before the flu season begins. You should also wash your hands frequently, especially if you have been around others who are sick. You can also disinfect objects with something like Lysol. Additionally, you should get plenty of exercise and maintain a healthy diet to keep your immune system in tip top shape. Finally, you should avoid crowds during flu season as much as possible.