The influenza virus, or more commonly referred to as the “flu,” infects the nose, throat, and lungs. It usually spreads because of exposure to an infected person—much like how coughs and colds spread itself.
For some reason, it’s more common when a certain season arrives. Because of this, it’s also referred to as seasonal flu. That being said, the severity of its effects can be mild and in rare cases, it can be deadly.
Everyone has to be careful about catching the flu. Although it’s a rather mild sickness when compared to chronic diseases and other bacterial or viral infections, it can lead to severe complications when left untreated. To avoid the flu, and the many ways it can make some of your illnesses harsher, you have to be prepared not just to prevent it, but to spread it if you have it.
The Sickness: Understanding the Flu
The flu dates back as far as the early 1900s and was the cause of the 1918 influenza pandemic which infected around a third of the world’s population—that’s 500 million people. It was also responsible for the deaths of at least 50 million people worldwide.
The harshness of the illness is likely because there wasn’t any kind of medication or vaccine for the sickness at that time. The only ways to control the disease worldwide were limited to non-pharmaceutical means such as isolation, quarantine, and personal hygiene.
Do not think lightly of the flu, even though it’s a relatively mild disease thanks to the advancements in medicinal research, ignoring it will still prove fatal to those who have unhealthy or weak immune systems.
The difference between the colds and the flu
It’s important to understand how colds and the flu are different from one another, particularly when you have to take flu medicine. Although they are relatively similar, there are a few subtle distinctions between them which will be able to help you recognize one from the other. With their overlapping symptoms, similar viral origins, and periods of more likely catching them—learning which is which depends largely on the quickness of its progression.
Keri Peterson, MD, an internist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, states that the common cold will typically be gradual in its progression—symptom by symptom—over several days. On the other hand, the flu consists of a constellation of symptoms coming on in 24 to 48 hours. There’s also a chance that you’ll feel chest pains and body aches as symptoms of the flu, something that’s not common for colds.
At the end of the day, the easiest way to identify if you have a cold or the flu is to get yourself checked by a doctor.
Symptoms of the flu
As mentioned above, the Flu has a plethora of symptoms. Note that the usual flu medicine can’t cure them all, but they are able to treat them one by one. Here are some of the most common symptoms of the Flu:
- Runny/Blocked Nose
- Sore Throat
- Unique to the Flu:
- Fevers/feeling feverish, getting the chills
- High Body Temperature
- Cold sweats and Shivers
- Aching Joints and Limbs
Though it’s important to keep in mind that not everyone that gets a fever automatically has the flu. Some gastrointestinal symptoms might also manifest, though these are more common in children than adults. These symptoms would usually remain for about a week or so, though fatigue might usually continue on for days, sometimes weeks to come.
On its own, the flu is not that much of a threat. It’s usually just a week or so of having to isolate yourself just to prevent the sickness from spreading. The other symptoms, though bringing discomfort for the most part—won’t usually end up being too severe to warrant getting confined in a hospital.
However, there are cases where the flu can lead to more severe illnesses—those that flu medicine will no longer be able to handle. The influenza virus can pave the way for other sicknesses to surface. Some of the most common ones are sinusitis, pneumonia, and meningitis. But not only that—for people with other medical complications such as heart disease or diabetes, their sickness can go haywire and result in more dangerous illnesses such as a heightened risk of heart attacks and stroke for those with heart disease or diabetics losing control of their blood sugar levels.
Catching the flu while you’re already experiencing other serious medical conditions can be very scary and dangerous. Being in this situation provides you with a relatively quantifiable risk of dying, as stated by Dr. Poland, director of the Mayo Clinic Vaccine Research Group.
Because of this, flu medicine and prevention are all the more important.
How it spreads
The flu is notorious for being one of the most contagious diseases in the world, well before vaccines were made to stop them in their tracks. Just a sneeze or a cough from a person with the flu will be enough to spread the sickness to people all around them.
It’s believed that people with the flu can spread it to others up to 6 feet away. Many experts believe that the flu virus spreads through droplets made when the people with flu begin to cough, sneeze or talk. Those tiny droplets can land in the mouths or noses of the people nearby, or even end up being inhaled into the lungs.
The effectiveness of contagiousness is at its peak during the first three to four days after the illness sets in. To be safe, you should assume that people with flu can infect people within the whole range of their sickness.
It’s very easy to spread the flu—especially if people aren’t vaccinated or are not healthy in a sense. For those who get it, however, flu medicine will help immensely in making them feel better despite the many symptoms it has.
This is an over-the-counter medicine that can help ease the discomfort caused by the symptoms of the flu. Basically, flu medicine targets the symptoms that cause discomfort and lessens them so that you can have an easier time as you let the flu pass on.
Most people would think that antibiotics should be strong enough to counteract the flu—however, the point is that antibiotics are made primarily for bacterial infections whereas the flu is a viral infection. Now when you use antibiotics for illnesses that they’re not able to treat will lessen the effectiveness of future antibiotics on you—resulting in a condition known as antibiotic resistance.
Below is a list of flu medicines that help ease the discomfort from specific flu symptoms.
Analgesics. These medicines are primarily used to reduce fever and pain. Some analgesics include Acetaminophen, Ibuprofen, and Naproxen. Medicine like Aspirin should be avoided because of the risk of developing Reye’s syndrome.Antihistamines. These medicines can help dry out your nose, however, they also tend to make you sleepy so avoid taking them when you plan on driving or doing some other complicated tasks. Antihistamines include diphenhydramine and loratadine. The latter is a non-drowsy alternative but is believed to be less effective than other antihistamines.
Decongestants. Take these in order to relieve a stuffy and/or clogged nose. Be aware, however, that side effects include insomnia, nervousness, and irritability. To be safe, pregnant women and those with uncontrolled high blood pressure should avoid pseudoephedrine products. A common decongestant is pseudoephedrine.Nasal Steroids. To help ease a runny nose or release sinus pressure, take fluticasone or mometasone. They can easily relieve a runny nose and they also double as medicine for seasonal allergies.
Other notable medicines that will help relieve flu symptoms include the following:
- Expectorants for the easier blowing of the nose and/or loosening cough/mucus production such as Guaifenesin.
- Antitussives help suppress coughs such as Dextromethorphan
- Throat lozenges to relieve a sore throat.
As many professionals would say, prevention is better than cure. This is much more significant in the medical field because in all essence, preventing illnesses is way easier than finding a cure for them. Keep in mind that nowadays, even flu medicine can take away a significant chunk of your savings when you’re not careful. However, the steps that you can do in order to prevent catching the flu won’t really cost you anything.
When it comes to avoiding the flu, you have three ways to go at it. First off, is to get yourself vaccinated. Second, is to make use of anti-flu medicines. And third, have a healthier lifestyle.
The importance of flu vaccines
By far the most effective way to prevent the flu from spreading like the pandemic of 1918 is to have people get vaccinated. People who get vaccinated, which some people call a flu shot, are basically injected with an inactive dose of the influenza virus. This enables your own immune system to create antibodies to fight off the live and more dangerous viral infection.
Keep in mind that vaccines don’t eliminate the chances of you getting the flu per se, however, it does greatly reduce the risk of contracting it and the symptoms that you get,
Getting vaccinated will also help protect everyone around you, particularly those that are not vaccinated themselves. Those that are more susceptible to getting the flu will be able to rest easy when the people around them are vaccinated—greatly limiting the chances that the flu will spread from person-to-person.
Remember, the purpose of the flu vaccine, aside from preventing you from getting the flu, is to prevent it from spreading as well.
Prescription anti-flu medicines
As mentioned above, there are no definite medicines that completely cure the flu, however, these prescription medications make the symptoms milder and easily makes you feel better. Keep in mind, however, that these are only effective when used in the first 48 hours of flu-like symptoms. These include the following: amantadine, rimantadine, zanamivir, and oseltamivir.
The medicine mentioned here is not needed for healthy people who get the flu. In most cases, they’re reserved for people who are very sick and already experiencing other medical conditions. They’re also your best bet to lessen the effects of the flu for those who are hospitalized, have more severe medical conditions or are already of old age.
Lifestyle Preventive Measures
The best way to prevent catching the flu is to simply live a healthy lifestyle. Having a healthy lifestyle will lead to a healthy body. You might even go through years without getting any kind of illness if you constantly take care of your body and get the right vaccines from time to time.
In order to live a healthy life, here are a few tips in keeping your body healthy:
First off, make sure that you drink plenty of fluids every day. It would be much better if you just took in water, but fruit juices are also good choices.
Get enough sleep. Too much sleep can lead to unexplained fatigue in the body, while too little can have an effect on your physical and mental fortitude.
Exercise regularly and pair it with a nutritious, balanced diet. This will enhance and strengthen your immune system against many illnesses.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth right after you touch someone or something that doesn’t seem to be sterile or healthy.
There are a lot more tips to make sure your health and prevent the flu, but the ones mentioned above will be more than enough as a starting point.
Prevent Yourself from Getting the Flu with The Generics Pharmacy
Sometimes what you do is not enough in order to prevent getting the flu. That being said, flu medicine will still make life a whole lot easier—especially when you’re dealing with the flu and other medical complications.
With the Generics Pharmacy, you’ll be offered top of the line medicine for coughs and colds that will surely help ease your discomfort from the flu. Not only will they be as effective as any other high-end branded medicine, but they’ll also be cheaper by a significant amount!
The Generics Pharmacy offers generic medicine for headaches, fever, and various illnesses—creating a space where medicine is accessible to everyone in the Philippines!
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