There are three Influenza viruses that infect humans which include influenza A, influenza B, and influenza C. However, the influenza A virus is more commonly seen. The influenza A virus has been attributed to cause serious epidemics and pandemics.
The influenza A virus infects a wide array of species including pigs, horses, birds, humans, and other animals. Although there are many similarities between these influenza A viruses, they are by no means the same. Each influenza A virus is genetically tailored to infect that species.
Influenza is a respiratory infection caused by an influenza virus. Many refer to influenza as the â€œfluâ€. The influenza virus may cause mild or severe illness which can lead to death.
The influenza virus In the U.S. is estimated annually to:
- Infect 5-20% of the population
- Account for 270,000 hospitalizations
- Account for 52,000 deaths
What is Influenza?
Influenza is a respiratory tract infection involving the upper airways and lungs. Influenza is highly contagious, transmitted by saliva and airborne droplets expelled by coughing, and sneezing. The incubation period is very short, ranging from one to three days.
Symptoms of Influenza
Common symptoms of influenza include:
- Muscle aches and pains
- Dry cough
- Nasal congestion
- Sore throat
- Irritated eyes
- Runny or stuffy nose
Symptoms in children
Other symptoms that are more common in children than adults include:
Many individuals may experience complications from the flu. Complications that can occur include:
- Bacterial pneumonia
- Worsening of chronic medical conditions
Signs in children
Children may experience the above complications along with the following:
- Sinus problems
- Ear infections
The influenza virus is spread from human to human when infected droplets are expelled by sneezing or coughing. Individuals may also become infected by touching a contaminated surface or object then their nose or mouth. Healthy adults may infect others one day prior to the development of symptoms up to five days after the onset of symptoms.
The best way to protect against the influenza virus is to get an annual influenza vaccination. Individuals who wish to reduce their chance of becoming infected should get vaccinated. However, certain individuals at a higher risk of influenza infection are strongly encouraged and include:
- Individuals 50 years or older
- Children 6-23 months of age
- Women pregnant during the flu season
- Individuals with chronic conditions of the heart or lungs
- Individuals with diabetes
- Individuals with a weakened immune system
- Health care workers and caregivers
Weak immune system to flu
Certain diseases can weaken the body’s immune system which includes:
- HIV patients
- Cancer patients
- Organ transplant patients
- Patients receiving chemotherapy
- Patients receiving radiation therapy
- Patients receiving steroid therapy
Eligible for influenza vaccination?
Certain individuals may not be ideal candidates for the influenza vaccination. Individuals who should not be vaccinated include:
- Individuals with an allergy to chicken eggs
- Children under the age of 6 months
- Individuals currently ill exhibiting a fever
- Individuals who have had a severe reaction to an influenza vaccine
- Individuals who developed Guillain-Barre Syndrome 6 weeks after vaccination
Influenza vaccines are developed each year based off the predominant strains in the Southern Hemisphere. Protection provided by the vaccine depends on effectiveness of the strain used to make the vaccine.
The best way to cure influenza is to go for hot foot baths, and gargle if one suffers from sore throat. Many people take a tea spoonful of raw and unadulterated mustard oil to get back the normal voice. If one experiences mild fever, one can simply take the precaution of not bathing in cold water. Keep the body and the feet warm. Using cold ointments on the back side of the body, armpits, feet and on the chest besides around the nostrils also provide relief by means of the strong evaporation of those ointments.
It has also been found that homeopathic treatment is the most ideal strategy to cure influenza. This is especially true with children. Homoeopathic medicines can also be taken by the adults. The homoeopathic treatments give the best results in cases of adults who are teetotalers. Nonetheless, these medicines are cheaper than the allopathic ones. Besides, the homoeopathic medications do have any side effects although they take some time to deliver the goods.
Home remedies to cure flu
Flu is always accompanied by vomiting, diarrhea, etc so the body suffers from dehydration. So the herbal remedy to counter dehydration is to have a good intake of liquids. The patients should have plenty of water, fruit juices, warm soups, herbal teas, electrolytic beverages etc to keep the body well hydrated. An important thing that the patient should avoid is caffeinated drinks and also alcohol. Keeping indoors humidified is another effective home remedy because the moist air helps to prevent the spread of flu and also relieve nasal congestion. Let us check some more home remedy options:
1. Lady’s fingers
Lady’s fingers are highly precious in treating irritation of the throat and a constant dry cough in flu. This vegetable is rich in mucilage and acts as a drug to allay annoyance, swelling, and pain. About hundred grams of lady’s fingers should be cut into pieces and boiled down in about half a liter of water to make a decoction. The steam issuing from this decoction may also be inhaled once or two times a day to relieve throat irritation and a dry cough. This a good home remedy for cold.
2. Bitter gourd roots
The roots of the bitter gourd or karela plant are used in folk medicine to cure a cold, due to influenza. A tablespoon of the root paste, mixed with an equal quantity of honey or tulasi leaf juice, given once every night for a month, acts as a wonderful medicine for colds. This a good home remedy for cold
Turmeric or haldi is an effective remedy for flu colds and throat irritations. Half a teaspoon of fresh turmeric powder mixed in thirty milliliter of warm milk and taken once or 2 times a day is a useful prescription for these conditions. This a good home remedy for cold.
4. Tamarind and Pepper
Tamarind-pepper rasam is also considered an effective home remedy for an influenza cold practiced in South India . Dilute fifty milligram tamarinds in 250 ml of water. Boil the diluted tamarind i.e. imli water for a few minutes with a tablespoon of hot ghee and 1/2 a teaspoon of black pepper powder. This steaming hot rasam (soup) has a flushing effect, and should be taken thrice daily. As one takes it, the nose and eyes water and the nasal blockage is cleared instantly.
Regular intake of amla will prevent the common cold of flu. If, however, a cold has already appeared, large doses of this vitamin C will relieve the symptoms and shorten its duration. This a good home remedy for cold
Garlic soup is an age old remedy to reduce the severity of a cold in influenza, and should be taken at least once daily. The soup can be geared up by boiling 3 or 4 cloves of chopped garlic in a cup of water. Garlic or lasuna contains antiseptic and antispasmodic properties, besides several other medicinal qualities. The oil contained in this vegetable aids or facilitates to open up the respiratory passages. In soup form, it flushes out all toxins from the respiratory system and thus helps bringing down fever. 5 drops of garlic oil combined with a teaspoon of onion juice, and diluted in a cup of water, should be drunk two to three times a day. This has also been found to be very efficient in the treatment of common cold.
Elderburry in any form for example, as juice, tea or syrup is a potent home remedy that can help to knock out the symptoms of flu. Elderburry juice can be mixed with lemon juice and honey or it can be brewed as a tea and taken to purify the lungs and skin. It also has the capacity to generate perspiration to reduce fever. It has calming properties and acts as a detoxifier to reduce congestion caused in respiratory organs.
Home made veg hot and sour soup takes care of the symptoms of flu and it is also one of the age old home remedies for flu. Rest is also the most simple and effective home remedy because it helps the body to relax and the immune system to ward off the virus. The intake of fruits which are rich in vitamin C like oranges, mango, papaya, guava, etc helps to boost the immune system and provides relief from the symptoms of flu.
9. Ginger root
Dry cough which is a symptom of flu tires the body and prevents the patients from getting enough sleep. Therefore, to prevent cough it is better to chew few cloves of ginger root or take a mixture of the age -old home remedy that is a mixture of ginger and honey. To prevent cough, honey can also be mixed with a cup of hot water and taken. Garlic, the kitchen queen, when taken initially, lessens the severity of the symptoms of flu.