Top 5 Things To Know About The Common Flu


Influenza or the common flu is a disease caused by a virus that attacks the respiratory system. It is very contagious. What are the symptoms? How to prevent it? How to treat it? So, without further ado, let’s dive into this blog and learn some of the things you ought to know about the common flu.

What is the flu?


In reality, there is not one flu, but many. It is a highly contagious acute respiratory infectious disease caused by influenza viruses of type A, B, or C. Type A and B viruses are responsible for seasonal flu epidemics, while type C viruses are rarer. Influenza viruses are very diverse.

Type A viruses are classified into subtypes determined by the proteins present on their surface: hemagglutinin (H1 to H15) and neuraminidase (N1 to N9). Thus, two A viruses of the same subtype may not have the same pathogenicity and contagiousness. We then speak of different viral strains. This great variety is linked to genetic mutations or gene exchanges between viruses. Thanks to these mechanisms, they acquire new properties very quickly and easily deceive our immune system.

What are the symptoms of the flu?

The first signs of influenza usually appear suddenly, after an incubation period of 24 to 48 hours: cough with high fever (over 39°C), muscle and joint pain, intense fatigue and headaches. These symptoms last from several days to a week. It can take up to two weeks for the patient to fully recover.

Most complications of influenza involve the respiratory system and are often due to bacterial superinfection: these pneumopathies can be fatal for the most fragile. Flu can also aggravate existing chronic diseases. This is why people with diabetes, heart and/or lung failure, cystic fibrosis or nephropathy are more prone to complications.

1. Get a flu shot


Prevention relies primarily on vaccination, which is the stimulation of the immune system to produce antibodies even before encountering the virus. Every year in February, the World Health Organization decides on the composition of the vaccine for the coming winter based on the previous year’s viral strains.

It is, therefore, necessary to be vaccinated every year so that the immune system is effective against new viruses that circulate. Getting vaccinated every year also helps to boost the immune memory, as it is known to decrease significantly 6 months after vaccination. In addition to this aspect, it is also essential to wash your hands frequently. And when you are sick, wearing a mask is recommended.

Getting vaccinated every year is the most effective way to protect yourself from the flu and its serious complications. Vaccination is especially important for pregnant women at all stages of pregnancy. It’s also crucial for children ages 6 months to 5 years, the elderly, people with chronic illnesses, and healthcare workers. The flu vaccine cannot cause the flu, but you may feel sore or feverish after vaccination. This perfectly normal and natural reaction usually lasts only a day or two.

2. Wash your hands regularly

Keeping your hands clean is an easy way to protect your and your family’s health. Clean hands protect against many infections, including the flu. Wash your hands regularly with soap under running water and wipe them thoroughly with a single-use towel. You can also use a hydroalcoholic solution if you can’t wash your hands with soap and water. The time it takes to wash your hands properly is about the same as singing “Happy Birthday” twice.

3. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth


Germs most often enter the body through the eyes, nose and mouth. You can’t control everything you inhale, but you can reduce the risk of infection by avoiding touching your face with your hands. If you must touch your eyes, nose or mouth, do so with a clean tissue or wash your hands first.

4. Stay away from people who are sick

The flu is contagious. It spreads easily in crowded spaces, such as public transportation, schools, nursing homes and public events. When an infected person coughs or sneezes, droplets containing the virus can spread up to one meter around them and infect others who breathe them in.

5. What are the current research avenues?


Medical research is very active in optimizing vaccination. One avenue is to develop a universal vaccine that would be effective against any strain of the virus. Researchers are also working on the method of administration of antivirals, which can influence their effectiveness. The goal is to catch the virus at an early stage by blocking its multiplication.

Finally, research nourishes the hope of finding new, more effective antiviral treatments. To achieve this, there is still a long way to go. Fundamental research is currently focused on a better understanding the mechanisms of replication and evolution of viruses. This knowledge should pave the way for innovative and highly sophisticated ways to block their multiplication.

Sound off in the comments section below and tell us what you want to read next and if you want to read more about the common flu.

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