Definition: What is the Flu?
Frequently found and highly contagious, the flu returns every winter to contaminate thousands of people in the UK. While the intensity of the autumn-winter epidemic varies from one year to another, more than 2 million people in the UK are affected every year. The flu is also known as influenza.
The flu is caused by three viruses that belong to the same family and genus ("influenzavirus"). These microorganisms attack the respiratory system, causing discomfort throughout the body. But how do you know if you have the flu? And how is it different from the common cold?
Symptoms of Influenza
The flu causes a variety of symptoms that usually appear abruptly after an incubation period of 24 to 48 hours. The affected person will suffer from:
- sore throat
- high fever, often over 38.5
These signs of respiratory problems may be supplemented by a dry cough, runny or stuffy nose, and loss of appetite. The symptoms last between 24 hours and a little over a week. As soon as the first signs of the flu appear, it is advised to consult a doctor who will confirm the diagnosis.
Treatment and Flu Remedies
While a visit to the doctor is most often necessary, there is no real treatment against the flu. Being of viral origin, the disease cannot be treated with antibiotics. Also, in the majority of cases, the flu heals spontaneously. In fact, if the flu virus is particularly frequent and virulent, the immune system of healthy people is quite capable of fighting it.
In addition, the prescribed treatments are usually only used to reduce symptoms. To relieve discomfort, the doctor can prescribe medication for fever, pain, or cough. On the other hand, young people are strongly discouraged from taking aspirin. In people with fragile health or in special cases, the doctor may decide to prescribe antiviral treatment to help their body fight the flu.
In addition to treatments, it is recommended to rest as much as possible and drink regularly to avoid dehydration. In both adults and children, staying at home helps the body to fight the disease, and limits the spread of the infection. In addition to rest, it is possible to use natural remedies (such as infusions or the famous grog) to help reduce general discomfort.
Flu: Contagion and Prevention
The flu virus spreads easily from one individual to another. To limit the spread, it is advised to be vigilant when one is sick, coughs, sneezes, or spits. In addition, it is important to wash your hands regularly with soap and water. The contagion period of influenza can start two days before the appearance of the first symptoms, and can last until 10 days later. Children are sometimes contagious for more than 10 days.
Fragile subjects, especially young children and the elderly, can use a vaccine to prevent infection. The latter is put on sale every year and is made from the three strains of viruses that circulate the most.