The winter wind brings along a few chills and a long queue outside the doctor's clinic. Seasonal changes do affect humans in many ways, altering physiological functions and immunity, making you susceptible to some seasonal diseases. This season, with flu still at large, it is important to make sure you are miles away from catching it. Read on to know how easily preventable it is.
Influenza, commonly known as flu, is a viral infection of the respiratory tract. It is often mistaken for gastroenteritis or stomach flu, and common cold, due to similar symptoms. However, influenza is a much severe illness as opposed to common cold and stomach flu. Left untreated, it can induce pneumonia and other severe complications. It is, therefore, important to diagnose this infection as early as possible, especially among immunocompromised individuals, children and the elderly.
AdvertisementSigns and symptoms: Influenza normally presents with the following signs and symptoms.
• Blocked nose
• Fever (in severe cases, accompanied by shivering and chills)
• Abdominal pain (mostly observed in children)
• General weakness and fatigue
• Redness of the eye
Prevention on the go: Listed below are a few preventive measures to be undertaken during an epidemic of flu.
Stop smoking: It is well-known that nicotine has innumerable harmful effects on the human body. During an epidemic of influenza, it is even more necessary to control smoking as it tends to increase the risk of catching flu, and produce more severe symptoms.
Stay clean: Cleanliness is the first step of prevention against almost all diseases. Living in a clean and healthy environment means you'll be under the attack of a much less number of infectious agents. When in a public place, make sure you carry a sanitizer with you and wear a face mask or cover your nose and mouth with a handkerchief whenever you must. Wash your hands and feet before and after meals, and boil water before drinking.
Get vaccinated: People under the high risk groups such as children and the aged, need to be vaccinated with an influenza vaccine, especially during an outbreak of flu, to establish maximum protection against the infection. People suffering from cardiovascular and respiratory ailments, and immunocompromised individuals should also consider getting vaccinated.
Sanitize your environment: Indoor environment is also important in the prevention of influenza. Dust your furniture regularly and use liquid sanitizers regularly at home.
Treatment: Early treatment makes for a better, healthier you. Visit a physician as soon as you identify the symptoms and get started with the treatment.
Take bed rest: The immune system requires energy to help fight against the infection. Give it the energy by lying down under a warm blanket. Most physicians will suggest bed rest for around 3-4 days, depending on your symptoms.
Blow your nose: A congested nose will do anything but better your health. Sniffing the mucus back inside will only clog up your nasal tract. Blowing your nose actually helps clean the nasal tract, and creates a not-so-hospitable environment for the flu virus to breed in.
Gargle: Gargling with warm water can work wonders in reducing the soreness of your throat, thereby reducing cough. Adding salt and turmeric powder to the water will magically reduce infection and can be used in cases of common cold as well.
Take a hot shower: A hot shower will make you feel fresh and reduce fever. If you're dizzy from the flu, sit on a chair and take a warm sponge bath.
Drink warm liquids: Warm liquids like coffee, tea and even soups loosen up the cough and mucus, easing up its way outside. They also help soothe the inflamed lining of the respiratory tract and prevent dehydration associated with the flu.
Use nasal decongestants: Ointments and rubs are now easily available. Apply them on your nose and chest before sleeping or add it in your steam water.
Medications: Your physician will probably suggest an antiviral or a neuraminidase inhibitor to reduce the severity of symptoms and stop the viral infection from getting worse.