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Flu: Everything you need to know

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Influenza, or flu, is a respiratory disease caused by a viral infection. Flu is highly contagious, and it spreads by droplets in the air. A individual may pass it on during a conversation or through physical contact, including shaking hands.

Each winter in the United States, and elsewhere, influenza A and influenza B trigger seasonal epidemics. Type C tends to cause mild respiratory disease.

Some influenza A strains, such as the “bird flu” virus H5N1, often infect humans and cause serious illness. Experts closely watch these strains as they try to predict how they’re going to change, and how they might affect people.

We explain the symptoms of flu in this article, the treatment options, how it varies from a cold and how to avoid flu.

Symptoms

A lady having runny nose
A person with the flu may experience a stuffy or runny nose.

individual with flu can experience the below Symptoms accordingThe Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) :

  • a high temperature that lasts 3–4 days
  • a stuffy or runny nose
  • cold sweats and shivers
  • aches that may be severe
  • headache
  • fatigue

Not everyone with flu will experience all those symptoms. For example, flu can occur without a fever.

Influenza symptoms usually develop unexpectedly. One person with flu will initially experience:

  • a high temperature
  • a stuffy or runny nose
  • a dry cough
  • cold sweats and shivers
  • aches that may be severe
  • a headache
  • fatigue, and a feeling of being unwell
  • a low appetite

Flu symptoms in adults

Adults with the following symptoms should seek medical help urgently:

  • breathing difficulties
  • pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
  • dizziness, confusion, or loss of alertness
  • seizures
  • not urinating, which may indicate dehydration
  • severe pain, weakness, and unsteadiness
  • fever or cough that goes away and then comes back
  • a worsening of other existing health conditions

Flu symptoms in children

Children often have similar symptoms to adults, but gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea can also be present.

If an infant has the following symptoms, emergency medical care is needed:

  • breathing difficulties
  • rapid breathing
  • bluish face or lips
  • chest pain or ribs pulling inward as they breathe
  • severe aches
  • dehydration, for example, not urinating for 8 hours and crying dry tears
  • lack of alertness or interaction with others
  • a fever above 104°F or any fever in a child under 12 weeks of age
  • a fever or cough that goes away but then comes back
  • a worsening of any other medical conditions

Should children have flu medication? Find out more here about Tamiflu and its effects on children.

Flu symptoms in babies

Flu can be dangerous for babies. If symptoms appear, a parent or caregiver should seek medical help.

A baby with flu may:

  • be very tired
  • have a cough and sore throat
  • have a stuffy or runny nose
  • have a fever of 100°F or more
  • have vomiting or diarrhea

The baby needs emergency medical attention if they:

  • do not want anyone to hold them
  • have a blue or gray skin color
  • are breathing fast or have difficulty breathing
  • have a fever with a rash
  • have symptoms that go away but come back again
  • show signs of dehydration, for example, not urinating
  • do not wake up or interact
  • have severe and persistent vomiting

Flu type A symptoms

If a person has the following symptoms, they may have influenza type A:

  • fever and chills
  • headache
  • muscle aches
  • fatigue
  • weakness
  • a stuffy or runny nose
  • a sore throat and cough

Flu type B symptoms

Influenza B symptoms are similar to those of influenza A.

Treatment

Most people can treat influenza during home. A mixture of lifestyle treatments and over- the-counter drugs can help alleviate symptoms.

Medication for pain relief will help manage a headache and body pain. A healthcare professional can recommend the best options.

Many painkillers, for example aspirin, are not suitable for children under the age of 16. At this age the use of aspirin will lead to a condition known as Reye’s syndrome.

Numerous options are available over the counter. Comparing different products is necessary, and only taking them under a medical professional’s advice.

Flu medication

A virus causes flu and therefore antibiotics won’t cure the disease. A physician can prescribe antibiotics only when there is a bacterial infection alongside the flu. Antiviral drugs, however, can help when someone has the flu.

Antivirals aim to prevent replication of the virus in a person’s body. Take for example oseltamivir (Tamiflu) and zanamivir (Relenza).

In 2018, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a new drug for acute, uncomplicated flu, called baloxavir marboxil (Xofluza). People are allowed to take the drug in a single dose by mouth.

People may take this medication if they are 12 years of age or older and have symptoms for less than 48 hours. Possible side effects include bronchitis and diarrhea.

Flu home remedies

When a person has flu, it is essential that they:

  • stay at home
  • avoid contact with other people if possible
  • keep warm and rest
  • consume plenty of liquids and healthful foods
  • avoid alcohol
  • stop smoking, as this raises the risk of complications

Other things people can try at home include:

  • chicken broth
  • herbal teas
  • vitamin supplements

Nevertheless, insufficient evidence is available to prove that consuming such helps.

Flu diagnosis

If a person is seeking medical advice for flu symptoms, a doctor will probably inquire about their symptoms and will do a physical exam. A doctor can take a swab of the throat for testing too.

The rapid diagnostic test for influenza will yield results in 10–15 minutes but may not be reliable. Other, more comprehensive experiments will take longer to yield results.

Flu or a cold?

Flu vs a cold image
Image credit: Stephen Kelly, 2018.

People often confuse the flu with a bad cold, since there are similar symptoms.

A cold and the flu both involve:

  • a runny or blocked nose
  • a sore throat
  • a cough
  • chest discomfort
  • fatigue

However, there are some differences:

  • A cold does not involve a fever, while the flu usually does.
  • The symptoms of a cold tend to appear gradually, while flu symptoms can develop rapidly.
  • Cold symptoms are typically less severe than those of flu.
  • After having the flu, a person may continue to feel tired for several weeks.
  • Flu is more likely to lead to complications, and it can be life threatening.

Flu or food poisoning?

Many types of viruses exist, and some can affect the digestive system. Sometimes people call that “stomach flu.” This disease is different from influenza, which is a respiratory disease.

The norovirus, which comes into the body through contaminated food or drink, is the most common cause of “stomach flu.” Symptoms include nausea and vomiting, as well as diarrhea. Similar symptoms caused by food poisoning.

Flu or pneumonia?

Pneumonia is possibly bacterial or viral. The symptoms may resemble those of flu, but an individual may experience sharp, stabbing chest pain, especially when breathing deeply or coughing.

Bacterial pneumonia may begin slowly or all of a sudden. Could include symptoms like:

  • a very high temperature
  • sweating
  • rapid breathing and pulse rate
  • blue nailbeds due to a lack of oxygen

Symptoms of viral pneumonia are similar to those of the flu. They include:

  • fever
  • dry cough
  • headache
  • aches and weakness

Like flu, however, pneumonia symptoms usually grow slowly. Anyone having high fever and difficulty breathing should see a doctor right away.

When is flu season?

People can have flu at any time but during the flu season it is more popular. The timing and length of the flu season vary from year to year, but it usually occurs during winter and fall.

In October, flu activity always begins to rise, and can last as late as May. It’s most common, however, from December through February.

Prevention

The flu shot can help prevent flu, but it is not 100% effective. People should follow lifestyle measures to reduce their risk.

Lifestyle tips for avoiding flu

Tips for avoiding infection include:

  • practicing good hygiene, including frequent hand washing
  • keeping the immune system strong by following a healthful diet
  • quitting or avoiding smoking, as smokers are more likely to develop complications
  • staying away from people who have the flu

People should stay away from others too when they have the flu to stop spreading it on their own.

Contagiousness

The flu virus is spread by liquid droplets. When they cough, sneeze, speak or breathe, a person may pass the virus on to another person who is up to 6 feet away from them.

A healthy person will pass on the virus a day before they’re symptoms themselves. Or put it another way, you can pass on the flu until you know you have it. After symptoms appear, the infected individual can continue to transmit the virus for up to 5–7 days.

People with a weakened immune system, older people and young children may have the ability to spread the virus for longer.

In the first 3–4 days after symptoms appear, flu is the most infectious.

Transmission

When droplets that contain the virus and come from another person’s breath penetrate their mouth, nose or lungs, a person can develop flu symptoms.

This transmission can happen if:

  • Someone without the virus is near a person with flu.
  • Someone who is virus free handles an object a person with the virus has touched and then touches their mouth, nose, or eyes.

Incubation period

A disease’s incubation period is the time it takes from when a person is infected with the virus to when symptoms begin.

This is around 2 days for flu but it can range from 1 to 4 days.

Even before symptoms appear a person can transmit the virus.

Flu when pregnant

Throughout pregnancy, flu may be more serious, because pregnancy affects how the immune system functions. If a woman is pregnant and has flu, they may need to be in the hospital for some time.

Pregnancy-related complications include a higher risk of:

  • preterm birth
  • low birth weight
  • stillbirth

For newborns, flu can be deadly. Mother’s risks include a higher likelihood of having complications, such as bronchitis, ear and blood infections.

How long does it last?

Symptoms of flu suddenly appear, usually around 2 days after infection. After about 1 week, most symptoms disappear but a cough may last for up to 2 weeks.

In some cases, a person may still be contagious for up to 1 week after the symptoms are gone.

Those can take longer to resolve if complications develop. Some of the more severe types of complications, such as kidney failure, can have a long term impact on a person’s health.

Some people experience post-viral fatigue for about a week after the principal symptoms have disappeared. They may have a lingering feeling of fatigue and feeling unwell.

Timeline

Typically, flu may progress as follows:

  • The virus infects a person, usually through their nose or mouth.
  • After one day, they may be able to transmit the virus to others.
  • Symptoms appear 1–2 days after infection.
  • The chance of transmitting the virus is highest 3–4 days after symptoms appear.
  • After 4 days, the fever and muscle aches improve.
  • After 1 week, most symptoms disappear.
  • The risk of transmitting the virus disappears 5–7 days after symptoms appear.
  • The cough and tiredness may remain for a further week.

Precautions

Normally the flu is not serious but it is uncomfortable. However complications may arise for some people. Some of those might be life-threatening.

Complications include:

  • bacterial pneumonia
  • dehydration
  • worsening of chronic medical conditions, such as congestive heart failure, asthma, or diabetes
  • sinus problems and ear infections

The risk of experiencing severe symptoms and flu complications is higher in the following cases:

  • adults over 65 years of age
  • babies or young children
  • pregnant women
  • people with heart or cardiovascular disease
  • individuals with chest problems, such as asthma or bronchitis
  • people with kidney disease or diabetes
  • individuals who are taking steroids
  • people undergoing treatment for cancer
  • anyone with a weakened immune system

Sometimes a new type of flu will emerge, such as H5N1, or bird flu.

Flu shot

The single best way to prevent flu is to have a flu vaccination every year.

There are two types of vaccination:

The flu shot: A healthcare professional will administer the flu shot with a needle, usually in the arm. It is suitable for anyone older than 6 months, including healthy people and those with chronic medical conditions.

The nasal-spray flu vaccine: The nasal-spray flu vaccine contains live, weakened flu viruses that do not cause illness.

Seasonal flu shot

A flu shot will contain the vaccine for several influenza viruses, according to the CDC.

Examples include:

  • influenza A (H1N1) virus
  • influenza (H3N2) virus
  • one or two influenza B viruses

Viruses, however, adapt and change over time and scientists may need to alter the vaccine content annually.

Data from international surveillance programs help experts predict which types in a given flu season are likely to circulate. Protection begins about 2 weeks after the vaccine is received.

Vaccinations for seasonal flu should begin in September, or as soon as the vaccine is ready. We keep going through the flu season, into January and beyond.

Flu shot side effects

The CDC states that there is a good safety record in the flu vaccine, and that it can not cause flu.

After having a vaccine, a person may experience the following adverse effects, but these will be mild and usually pass over within a few days.

  • pain, redness, and swelling at the injection site
  • headache
  • fever
  • nausea
  • muscle aches

About 1–2 people may develop a condition known as Guillain-Barr syndrome (GBS) in every 1 million. People may also develop GBS after having flu, however, and the risk of this is greater than with the vaccine. With the nasal spray version of the vaccine the risk of developing GBS may be lower.

If someone experiences hives, swelling, and breathing difficulties after any vaccine, they should seek immediate medical assistance, as this may be a sign of an allergic reaction. A serious reaction is called anaphylaxis which can endanger life.

People who have previously had an allergic reaction to a vaccine should not have the flu shot.

Flu shot pregnancy

Receiving the flu shot during pregnancy is healthy, and is recommended by doctors. Providing coverage takes about 2 weeks. The vaccine will also transfer to the fetus and give them some flu-protection.

Newborns can not have a flu vaccine but it can be unsafe for them to have flu. Both the mother and her unborn child can benefit from having the vaccine.

Flu shot effectiveness

The flu shot can not provide 100 per cent flu safety because scientists are unable to predict exactly what forms of flu will spread during a season.

CDC estimates from 2018–2019 indicate that the vaccine was nearly 47 percent effective in preventing influenza A or B.

Several factors can contribute to the effectiveness of each year’s flu shot. These may include the person receiving the vaccination’s age and overall health plus how well the vaccine suits the prevalent viruses.

Flu shot for seniors

The CDC is recommending a flu shot for people 65 or older. As people get older, when they have flu, they’re more likely to develop complications.

Older people may need a higher dose of vaccine because the flu virus may be less resistant to their immune systems. The vaccine is not capable of providing full protection but will reduce the risk of flu and complications.

During the 2013–2014 flu season in the U.S., a 2017 study looked at data for older people in hospital with flu. There were lower fatality rates, fewer complications and less overall time spent in an intensive care unit among those who had received the vaccine.

People 65 or older should ask their doctor about the vaccine at the beginning of each flu season. The doctor will prescribe an individually-adapted vaccine.

Flu shot cost

Within the private sector the cost of a flu shot is around $15–$24, depending on the type.

Individuals should check their insurance policies to find their cover. For example, Medicare part B provides for one flu shot each flu season.

When to see a doctor

A doctor only needs to know that a person has the flu if:

  • they are already frail or have an existing health condition
  • they have a weakened immune system
  • they are infants or aged 65 years or over
  • their temperature remains high after 4–5 days
  • symptoms worsen or are severe
  • they become short of breath, develop chest pain, or both

However, anyone who has questions about their symptoms should get more advice from their doctor.

Q:

Is it really worth having the flu vaccine? It seems to me that it does not offer much protection.

A:

Even though the flu vaccine is not 100% effective, there are still plenty of good reasons to get one every year.

First, getting the flu vaccine reduces the chances of becoming sick. In addition to being very unpleasant, flu can cause complications that can be potentially serious and even require hospitalization. Even when an infection is not serious, being sick with flu can also contribute to lost days of work or school.

Second, the vaccine may still protect a person even if they catch the flu. People that receive the vaccine and still get sick may have a less severe illness.

Lastly, by getting the flu vaccine, you’re protecting groups that cannot have the vaccination or who are susceptible to serious complications from the flu, such as older adults, children under 6 months of age, people with a weakened immune system, and individuals with chronic health conditions. Jill Seladi-Schulman, Ph.D.

Answers represent the opinions of our medical experts. All content is strictly informational and should not be considered medical advice.

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Flu / Cold / SARS

Symptoms, causes, and treatment of head cold

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A common cold, often known as a head cold, is a viral infection of the nose and throat. Although it is usually a mild sickness, the symptoms can have a substantial influence on daily activities.

The average adult gets two to three colds per year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and children may get more.

This article examines the signs and symptoms of a head cold, as well as a variety of home remedies for alleviating symptoms.

What is it?

head cold

Head colds are caused by viruses. They are normally harmless and go gone on their own. They can, however, cause unpleasant symptoms in certain people.

Head colds can be mistaken for other illnesses such as chest colds and sinus infections. There are, nevertheless, some major distinctions.

Sinus infection vs. head cold

When a viral infection causes symptoms mostly in the head, such as a stuffy nose or a headache, it is known as a head cold.

Bacteria can grow in the sinuses, the hollow areas around the nose, producing a sinus infection if fluid builds up there.

Many of the symptoms of sinus infections are similar to those of head colds, such as a runny nose and cough. Infections of the sinuses can also cause facial pain and pressure.

Viruses, including head colds, can cause sinus infections.

Head cold vs. chest cold

When the symptoms of a cold impact the head, including the nose and throat, it is known as a head cold.

When the airways swell and mucus builds up in the lungs, it’s called a chest cold or acute bronchitis. When this happens, a person often has a loose, chesty cough that includes coughing up some mucus. Coughing in this manner aids in the clearing of the airways.

A chest cold normally clears up in three weeks.

Colds in the head and chest are caused by viruses. A head cold can quickly progress to a chest cold.

Colds in the head and chest can have a variety of symptoms:

Common head cold symptomsCommon chest cold symptoms
coughing, runny nose, and sneezingcoughing often with mucus
sore throatsore throat
headacheheadache
body achesbody aches, including chest soreness

A person may, however, have a combination of these symptoms.

Causes

A head cold can be caused by a variety of viruses, including:

Colds in the head are extremely contagious. When a person with a head cold sneezes or coughs, virus-laden droplets can fly through the air and infect others.

It is possible to get a head cold after coming into contact with surfaces or objects that have been touched by someone who has been infected with the virus. The virus can get into a person’s body through their eyes, mouth, or nose.

Symptoms

After being exposed to rhinovirus or another cold-causing virus, symptoms of a head cold occur 1 to 3 days later. These signs and symptoms differ from person to person and include:

Most symptoms can be relieved in as little as one week for some people. However, some people may have symptoms for a longer period of time.

Risk factors

Although anyone can have a head cold, and most people will get several colds throughout their lifetime, there are specific characteristics that enhance the risk of being unwell. These are some of them:

  • exposure to other people with head colds, particularly schoolchildren
  • having a weakened immune system
  • the season, as colds are more common in fall and winter
  • being under the age of 5
  • smoking

Complications

The majority of people will recover from a head cold without any difficulties. When issues do occur, they include the following:

  • Asthma attack: In asthmatics, a cold can induce an asthma attack.
  • Acute sinusitis: A persistent head cold can lead to sinusitis, a condition characterised by inflammation and infection of the sinuses.
  • Ear infection (otitis media): An ear infection can occur if the virus enters the area beneath the eardrum.
  • Other infections: Following a head cold, certain people, particularly youngsters and those with compromised immune systems, might develop secondary infections. Strep throat, pneumonia, and croup are common secondary diseases linked with a head cold that require medical attention.

Treatment

Antibiotics are useless since a head cold is caused by a viral infection. Rather, treatment tries to control symptoms and alleviate suffering.

The following are some common home cures for a head cold:

  • Rest: Resting aids the body’s healing process. Staying at home instead of going to work or school decreases the risk of spreading the illness to others.
  • Hydration: Staying hydrated aids in the relief of congestion in the nose and sinuses while also calming the throat. Staying hydrated can be as simple as drinking water or diluted juice. Warm drinks, such as teas, broths, and soups, may be very useful. Caffeine and alcohol should be avoided until a person is fully recovered.
  • Saltwater gargle: A person can gargle with a 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 8 ounces of warm water to relieve a sore throat.
  • Pain relievers: Over-the-counter (OTC) drugs can help with headaches, sore throats, and fevers. Some of medications, such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen.. When providing medicines to children, always follow the directions on the package.
  • Humidifiers or vaporizers: Coughing and congestion are relieved by using these devices, which add moisture to the air. Using a vaporizer or humidifier at night may help you sleep better. To prevent the growth of bacteria and mould, vaporizers and humidifiers should be cleaned on a daily basis.
  • Nasal sprays: Saline nasal sprays are safe for both children and adults and can help release mucus in the nose. Adults can take nasal decongestant sprays for up to three days. People should avoid using decongestant sprays for an extended period of time since it can lead to addiction or rebound congestion.
  • Supplements: To prevent or treat a head cold, many people use vitamins. Vitamin C, Echinacea, and zinc are among the most popular supplements. However, there is little evidence that taking supplements helps to alleviate symptoms.

Prevention

Although there is no way to prevent a head cold, the methods outlined below can help lower the risk of catching the virus. They may be especially important for people who are immunocompromised:

  • Stay away from infected people. To avoid contracting a head cold, keep a safe distance from someone who has one.
  • Hands should be washed frequently. Transmission of the virus is reduced by thoroughly cleansing hands with soap and hot water. Hand sanitizer with alcohol is also effective.
  • Items should not be shared. Avoid sharing glasses or utensils with others to avoid spreading cold germs.
  • When family members are sick, use disinfectant. When a family member is unwell, disinfect the kitchen counters and bathroom fixtures. It is also important to clean children’s toys on a regular basis.
  • Cough or sneeze into tissues. Germs are prevented from spreading via the air by using tissues. After sneezing or coughing, throw away used tissues right away and always wash your hands.
  • Make an effort to live a healthy lifestyle. Eating a well-balanced diet, getting regular exercise, lowering stress, and getting enough sleep can all help the immune system fight off illness.
  • Instill healthy hygiene habits in your children. Request that youngsters sneeze or cough into a tissue or the crook of their elbow to avoid using their hands to cover their lips. Encourage children to thoroughly wash their hands on a frequent basis.

When to consult your doctor

If a person or a kid experiences any of the following symptoms, they should see a doctor:

  • symptoms lasting longer than 10 days
  • severe or unusual symptoms
  • flu symptoms, including:
    • fever
    • chills
    • muscle or body aches

If a child younger than 3 months old has a fever or appears sluggish, contact a doctor very away.

Outlook

Although there is no cure for a head cold, there are a number of home treatments that can help relieve symptoms and suffering. A person can take precautions to avoid contracting a cold by limiting their exposure to viruses that cause colds.

A person suffering from a head cold might expect to recover in 7–10 days. Individuals who have severe or persistent symptoms of a head cold should see a doctor.

Conclusion

A head cold can result from exposure to a variety of viruses, the most common of which being rhinoviruses. A runny nose, headaches, and cough are all signs of a head cold.

Colds in the head aren’t dangerous and normally go away on their own. Rest, staying hydrated, and taking over-the-counter cold drugs can all help to alleviate symptoms.

Colds in the head are highly contagious and can be transferred by coughing or sneezing.

Sources:

  • https://www.cdc.gov/antibiotic-use/bronchitis.html
  • https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/chest-infection/
  • https://www.asthma.org.uk/advice/triggers/colds-and-flu/
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK279543/
  • https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/319573
  • https://www.cdc.gov/features/rhinoviruses/index.html
  • https://www.aaaai.org/Tools-for-the-Public/Drug-Guide/Nasal-Sprays
  • https://www.cdc.gov/antibiotic-use/sinus-infection.html

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Flu / Cold / SARS

What is the flu recovery timeline?

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Many sources treat the common cold and the flu as interchangeable terms, but the flu is frequently more severe than the common cold. Although most people with the flu recover in about a week, if complications arise, the sickness can persist longer.

For several days, a person with the flu may be unable to work, conduct home activities, or care for children. Some people get severe symptoms and may need to be admitted to the hospital.

We’ll go over how long the flu normally lasts, a chronology of the most common symptoms, and when to see a doctor for treatment in this post.

When to consult your doctor

flu symptoms

People should aim to contact a doctor within 24 to 48 hours of the onset of flu symptoms, as this is when antiviral medications are most effective.

It’s also important to contact a doctor if your symptoms don’t improve after 7 days or if you develop new ones, such as ear pain.

If you are experiencing any of the following people, you should seek immediate medical attention:

  • Breathing becomes hard or difficult.
  • Muscle pain is intolerable or severe enough to make walking impossible.
  • A fever of more than 104°F develops in a youngster.
  • When a child or infant breathes, they produce loud noises or pull on the muscles around their ribcage.
  • A person has seizures, loss of consciousness, confusion, or inability to speak properly .
  • A fever occurs in a newborn under the age of 12 weeks.
  • Chronic medical issues cause symptoms to worsen.
  • The dizziness is severe and does not subside after a few hours.
  • A person stops urinating or only urinates once in a while.
  • Symptoms improve for a while, then return and become worse.

How long?

Symptoms normally continue 3–7 days in people who do not develop major flu complications. Some people notice that their symptoms improve and then deteriorate, or that they are worse at specific times of day, such as in the morning.

Although the fever and the most severe symptoms usually go away within a week, some people can have poor energy for up to two weeks, and a cough can last up to eight weeks.

The flu vaccination lessens but does not eliminate the risk of acquiring the flu. People who catch the flu after getting a vaccination, on the other hand, tend to have milder symptoms that linger for a shorter amount of time.

Antiviral medications like oseltamivir (Tamiflu) can also help to shorten the duration of the flu and reduce the risk of catastrophic consequences.

Symptoms may continue longer in infants and young children, older individuals, and people with respiratory disorders. These people are also more likely to develop significant flu symptoms including pneumonia and breathing problems.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the flu causes roughly 200,000 people in the United States to visit the hospital each year.

Complications from the flu are unlikely to go away on their own and can turn into a medical emergency. It is possible that they will necessitate a person to stay in the hospital. A person’s recovery from acute flu complications might take weeks or even months.

Timeline, signs and symptoms

Unlike the symptoms of the common cold and other viruses, which appear gradually, flu symptoms appear suddenly. A person may go from feeling normal to having a fever and other symptoms in a few of hours.

With the flu, a high temperature is more likely than with a cold, and it generally emerges before other symptoms.

The following are the most common flu symptoms:

  • a dry cough
  • a sore throat
  • vomiting
  • chills
  • muscle aches
  • headache
  • weakness and extreme exhaustion
  • congestion
  • high fever

Between days 2 and 4, the symptoms usually peak. Some people start to feel better by day five. Only a few people are able to return to work or education.

After a fever has broken, however, it is important to stay at home for the next 24 hours. Stay at home if your temperature is only relieved by anti-fever medicines.

On day 7, the majority of people are feeling much better, however some are still sick. It’s very uncommon for the flu to last more than a week, so a prolonged recovery isn’t always a bad thing. However, if the symptoms persist after a week, it’s probably advisable to contact a doctor.

Treatment

An antiviral flu medicine is the finest and most effective treatment for the flu. Taking this medication within two days after becoming ill may help to decrease the duration of the flu and prevent complications.

Before using any anti-flu medicine, a person should consult with a doctor to assess the risks and benefits. Because some people encounter adverse effects when using anti-flu medications, it’s important to notify your doctor about any previous health problems or drug responses.

Antibiotics are ineffective against the flu. Antibiotics only treat bacterial infections, and the flu is a virus.

Some people, however, acquire secondary illnesses as a result of the flu. Ear infections are more common in children, but they can also affect adults. If your symptoms suddenly alter or worsen, it could be a sign of a new infection, either viral or bacterial.

How to aid recovery

The strategies listed below can aid in the healing process:

  • Staying in bed and resting.
  • Avoid going to work, school, or anywhere else because the flu can be spread.
  • Drinking a lot of water. To avoid dehydration, take an electrolyte drink if you have a fever or vomiting.
  • Taking over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen or acetaminophen.
  • Hand washing should be done often to prevent the infection from spreading to other family members.

Conclusion

The majority of people who catch the flu will experience symptoms for 3 to 7 days. If difficulties arise, they may be hospitalised for a longer period of time.

Every year, the flu kills thousands of people. Children, the elderly, and people with weakened immune systems are all more susceptible to flu complications. People who have the flu should rest and stay away from public places until their symptoms subside.

Even major issues can be recovered with rest and medical attention. Anyone experiencing severe flu symptoms should seek medical attention. Every year, a person can obtain a flu shot to lower their risk of contracting the virus.

Sources:

  • https://www.cdc.gov/antibiotic-use/community/for-patients/common-illnesses/ear-infection.html
  • https://www.cdc.gov/flu/index.htm
  • https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/325063

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Flu / Cold / SARS

How to get rid of a cold: Natural treatments, prevention, and medication

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A viral infection in the upper airways, sinuses, throat, and nose causes the common cold. It is normally not a cause for concern, despite the fact that it is uncomfortable.

A cold is a self-limiting infection in the vast majority of cases, despite feeling poorly with sneezing, sore throat, cough, and runny nose. This means it gets better on its own without requiring specific treatment.

The majority of people recover in one week, while it may take longer in some circumstances.

In this article, we’ll look at how to manage cold symptoms and find some relief.

Water

When people have a cold, they tend to sweat and have runny noses, which can cause severe dehydration. This fluid loss must be restored on a regular basis. Water is the best beverage.

If you have a cold, you should drink a lot of water. Keep in mind that coffee and caffeinated sodas might dehydrate you, so cause them.

Chicken soup

Chicken soup, according to experts, can help reduce the symptoms of a cold. It is thought to slow the movement of neutrophils, which are immune system cells that cause inflammation, as well as mucus.

Chicken soup is also a good source of water, which can aid with dehydration.

Rest

getting enough of rest

Not only will getting enough of rest help to alleviate some of the symptoms and make people feel better, but it may also shorten the duration of their cold. Rest aids the immune system’s ability to combat the viral infection.

Antibiotics

Antibiotics are prescribed for bacterial illnesses. Viruses cause colds, which do not react to antibiotics. Antibiotics will not help patients recover faster, nor will they prevent them from spreading the infection on to others.

Fear of consequences, according to a BMJ article, is not a good enough reason to prescribe antibiotics for the common cold. However, it adds that, “as far as the elderly are concerned, antibiotics do greatly lower the risk of pneumonia following a chest infection.”

Echinacea

Echinacea, often known as purple coneflower, is a wild flower endemic to North America. It is used as a herbal treatment by indigenous peoples for a range of ailments and problems. Studies have shown contradictory results, and they continue to do so.

According to a 2007 study published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases, the herbal cure cut the length of a cold by an average of 1.4 days and reduced the risk of developing a cold by 58%.

Researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Medicine, on the other hand, revealed in Annals of Internal Medicine that Echinacea had no effect on the common cold, and that it only shortens the duration of symptoms “by half a day at most.”

Inhalation of steam

The steam may help to relieve congestion problems. For a typical steam inhalation, follow these steps:

  • Fill a pan halfway with water and bring to a boil.
  • Place the pan on a stable table and cover it with a cloth or heat-resistant mat.
  • Patients can sit with their heads over the pan and a cloth over their shoulders.
  • Close your eyes and take a deep breath.
  • Make sure there’s no steam in your eyes.

Steam inhalation should not be used with tiny children because to the risk of scorching. Standing close to a hot shower and inhaling the steam may be beneficial to little children.

Hygiene

In order to avoid the transmission of infection, good cleanliness is important. When you’re sick, avoid going to work or school.

When coughing or sneezing, cover your mouth with a tissue and toss it away as soon as possible. Make care to properly wash your hands with soap and warm water.

If there are no tissues available and a person coughs or sneezes, doctors recommend coughing or sneezing into the inner region of the elbow, which does not contaminate surfaces.

Salt water

Salt water

Gargling with a solution of one-quarter teaspoon salt dissolved in 8 ounces warm water may provide brief relief from sore throat symptoms. A saline solution can relieve pain by drawing excess fluid from inflammatory tissues in the back of the throat. Thick mucus may also relax and become simpler to remove.

Nasal saline drops – available at pharmacies, these may aid in the relief of nasal congestion in young babies. Gargling with nasal saline drops instead of salt solutions could be beneficial (getting babies and very young children to gargle is virtually impossible).

Vitamin C

Vitamin C’s effects on the common cold were investigated in a Cochrane analysis published in 2013. The study found that people who took at least 200 mg of vitamin C per day experienced a reduction in the duration of their symptoms. They discovered that taking

Steam inhalation should not be used with tiny children because to the risk of scorching. Standing close to a hot shower and inhaling the steam may be beneficial to little children.

Zinc

Previous research on the effects of zinc for treating colds has yielded conflicting results. According to the majority of favourable studies, zinc should be administered within 24 hours after the onset of symptoms.

Zinc appears to perform better in adults than in youngsters, according to Canadian researchers, who also noted that side effects, particularly when higher amounts are used, are common. Permanent anosmia, or the inability to smell, is a major side effect. It’s important to know what kind of zinc you’re taking and how much you’re taking before you start using it.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C’s effects on the common cold were investigated in a Cochrane analysis published in 2013. The study found that people who took at least 200 mg of vitamin C per day experienced a reduction in the duration of their symptoms. They discovered that taking Vitamin C after the symptoms started had little benefit.

C after the symptoms started had little benefit.

Treatment for fever and pain

Pain relievers and antipyretics (fever-reducing medications) may be beneficial. Although a high temperature is undesirable, a low fever is beneficial since it aids the body’s ability to fight diseases more quickly. Viruses and bacteria have a harder time reproducing when the body temperature rises. Doctors no longer advocate attempting to reduce a minor fever, with the exception of extremely young patients.

Antipyretics, on the other hand, are usually fine if patients are irritated and uncomfortable. Only elderly adults, not children or young adults, should use aspirin.

Fever and pain are well treated with acetaminophen or ibuprofen. For the exact dosage and timing for these medications, see a doctor or a licenced pharmacist. Overmedication can cause in liver damage or failure, as well as renal damage or failure.

Air humidifers

An air humidifier will assist keep the throat and nasal passages moist throughout the cold months when central heating dries out the air.

Zinc

Previous research on the effects of zinc for treating colds has yielded conflicting results. According to the majority of favourable studies, zinc should be administered within 24 hours after the onset of symptoms.

Zinc appears to perform better in adults than in youngsters, according to Canadian researchers, who also noted that side effects, particularly when higher amounts are used, are common. Permanent anosmia, or the inability to smell, is a major side effect. It’s important to know what kind of zinc you’re taking and how much you’re taking before you start using it.

Antihistamines

Some cold symptoms, such as watery eyes, runny nose, coughs, and sneezes, may be relieved slightly by sedating (first generation) antihistamines. However, experts are divided on whether the benefits of using antihistamines exceed the risks. The results of studies have been mixed.

Antihistamines, according to many experts, dry out nasal membranes, slowing mucus flow and impairing the ability of the nasal passages to rid themselves of germs.

Antihistamines may have a short-term effect on symptoms, according to a recent study published in PLOS, but only in adults during the first two days of treatment. There is insufficient evidence in youngsters to assess the treatment’s efficacy. Again, the disadvantages may outweigh the advantages.

Decongestants

Decongestants are drugs that help you breathe easier by shrinking the bulging membranes in your nose. Decongestants can be taken orally or through the nose. Nasal decongestants should not be used for more than 5 days unless prescribed by a doctor; extended use may cause the nose to become more blocked.

Decongestants should not be used by patients with hypertension unless they are under the care of a doctor. Many scientists are unsure if decongestants work or are worth suggesting because they only act for a limited period of time. Patients on MAOI (monoamine oxidase inhibitor) antidepressants should avoid nasal decongestants.

Medications for cough

Medications for cough

Children may be at risk from over-the-counter cough treatments. They should not be given to youngsters under the age of two, according to the FDA.

Sources:

  • http://annals.org/aim/article/746567/echinacea-treating-common-cold-randomized-trial
  • http://journals.plos.org/plosmedicine/article?id=10.1371/journal.pmed.0020168
  • http://www.bmj.com/content/335/7627/982?variant=full
  • https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/247789
  • http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1473309907701603
  • http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1440-1754.2009.01609.x/full

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