“Aaaaaanchuuuu” *snif snif* well winter is coming, so is christmas & the new years eve, with all of this, comes our yearly guest – the flu! So here is a little bit about what it is and how to keep your self well protected from this bug.
The flu – short form of the in-flu-enza virus is actually a bug – a virus, causing an infectious disease better known in its milder form to us as the ‘common cold’. With people sneezing, coughing and a runny nose to severe forms of lung and throat infections resulting in hospitalisation – it can cause it all !
Symptoms seen usually start with symptoms of low grade fever in the mornings to high temperatures during evening to night hours, a cold, some cough with a runny nose or sometimes even diarrhoea especially in children. Other features may include fatigue, body ache and rashes.
Usually it is self limiting illness, as it’s a viral infection and because of our god-gifted immune system – the bug is killed and the patient recovers in a couple of days.
More severe forms of disease are seen in patients with other co-existing diseases like asthma, lung disorders, extremes of age or with much more virulent strains of the influenza virus – like the infamous – swine flu. (influenza a h1n1)
So how do i protect myself?
Well to understand this we need to understand how this bug spreads –
The influenza virus can be spread in three main ways:
- By direct transmission (when an infected person sneezes mucus directly into the eyes, nose or mouth of another person);
- The airborne route (when someone inhales the aerosols produced by an infected person coughing, sneezing or spitting) and through
- Others like – hand-to-eye, hand-to-nose, or hand-to-mouth transmission, either from contaminated surfaces or from direct personal contact such as a hand-shake.
So protecting ourselves from this virus requires us to start right from our personal hygiene level, doing things like
- Not touching your eyes, nose or mouth with bare hands / uncleaned.
- Frequent hand washing (with soap and water, or with alcohol-based hand rubs)
- covering coughs and sneezes;
- Avoiding close contact with sick people; and
- Staying home yourself if you are sick.
- Avoiding spitting is also recommended.
- Cleaning surfaces with alcohol is an effective sanitizer against influenza viruses, while ammonium compounds can be used with alcohol so that the sanitizing effect lasts for longer.
- In hospitals, quaternary ammonium compounds and bleach are used to sanitize rooms or equipment that have been occupied by patients with influenza symptoms.
- At home, this can be done effectively with diluted chlorine bleach.
- When small numbers of people are infected, isolating the sick might reduce the risk of transmission.
Available in the market are vaccines for the human Influenza A and B with strains of H1N1 as well.
Taking the vaccine is recommended for health care workers, teachers, and patients with other coexisting illnesses amongst others so as to prevent spread of this disease.
People with the flu are advised to get plenty of rest, drink plenty of liquids, avoid using alcohol and tobacco and, if necessary, take medications such as paracatemol to relieve the fever and muscle aches associated with the flu
Antibiotics have no effect on the infection; unless prescribed for secondary infections such as bacterial pneumonia. Antiviral medication may be effective. If given early, but some strains of influenza can show resistance to the standard antiviral drugs but maybe tried in severe cases like oseltamivir.
According to the world health organization: “every winter, tens of millions of people get the flu. Most are only ill and out of work for a week, yet the elderly are at a higher risk of death from the illness.
DR SHAEQ MIRZA MD. Dip Diab.
APOLLO HYDERGUDA, HYDERABAD