The flu has been a big problem across the United States this winter. And while it’s not quite as bad as last year, there are still plenty of people who are sick, so if you get that dreaded cold or flu, know what to do.
Here’s everything you need to know about preventing your symptoms from getting out of control and how to cope with flu if you get it.
What is influenza?
Influenza is an infection caused by an influenza virus. The viruses can be transmitted through direct contact (through sneezing or coughing), indirect contact such as touching surfaces contaminated by another person’s mucus and body fluids; or respiratory droplets expelled into the air when someone coughs or sneezes. The virus itself is very contagious and can survive in objects for up to 24 hours.
Symptoms include fever, chills, muscle aches, fatigue, sore throat, runny nose, cough, headache, body aches and general discomfort. Some people may also experience vomiting, diarrhea and stomach pain.
What causes influenza?
It’s often referred to as “the common cold” because it’s one of the most prevalent diseases. Influenza is actually a type of virus that belongs to the same family as rhinoviruses, which cause cold-like symptoms.
In other words, they share many similarities in their biology but only influenza is capable of causing disease. This is why we use the term “flu” rather than “cold”. Although both types of infections are caused by a virus, influenza is more easily spread and is responsible for higher rates of hospitalization and death.
Most people have already been exposed to the influenza virus at some point without becoming ill. Your immune system will remember these encounters and help protect you against future exposure to the infectious agent. However, if you become infected with the influenza virus, your immune system will lose its effectiveness.
When this happens, your body starts producing antibodies which prevent the virus from replicating in your cells and causing illness. When a new strain of influenza virus comes along, those antibodies no longer work and the virus becomes able to replicate and cause disease.
A vaccine is available for influenza. It contains pieces of the virus that have been weakened so that they cannot cause disease. Once injected into the arm, the vaccine induces production of antibodies, which protect against the full-strength version of the virus. These antibodies remain present in the blood for several months after vaccination, providing long-term protection.
How to avoid catching the flu if you’re vaccinated and haven’t caught any yet
If you’ve gotten a flu shot, you don’t have to worry too much about being infected. But if you haven’t received a vaccination and you’ve been around somebody who is sick, then you could catch your first case of the season early on. So here are a few tips to keep yourself protected.
Don’t touch your eyes, nose or mouth
You might think that touching your face would transfer germs from your hands to your eyes, nose or mouth, but in fact, this is usually not the case unless you are touching your eyes or nose, like wiping away tears or blowing your nose. Germs can still make their way onto your skin, though, especially if you wear gloves while working outside or using public transportation.
So always wash your hands before touching your face, even if you just washed them moments ago. If you are wearing gloves, take care to remove them when necessary and wash your hands again afterwards. Also, make sure the doorways and door handles leading inside your house and office are clean.
Cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze
This isn’t something you should do all the time, but if you’re sick, covering your mouth when you cough or sneeze helps stop the spread of germs. There’s nothing wrong with sharing a tissue with friends, but if you’re alone, try to use your elbow instead. Or if you’re really feeling grossed out, try to put your hand over your mouth as soon as you start to cough or sneeze.
Wash your clothes
You probably heard this tip a million times, but washing your clothes really does help prevent the spread of germs. Use hot water and soap, and let your clothes hang out until dry. Then throw them in the dryer on low heat for a few minutes. If you’re wearing wet outer garments, take care to turn them inside-out.
Stay home if you aren’t well
If you feel under the weather, stay home and don’t go out to socialize. You want to limit the number of people who come near you so you don’t infect others. Plus, it gives your immune system time to fight off the virus.
Wear a mask, if possible
This one seems obvious, but masks help reduce transmission between people. If you’re going out shopping and see a lot of people congregating together, ask for a mask and wear it. Even better, wear a mask if you’re visiting a friend’s house, since that way you won’t expose them to your germs. If you’re sick and can’t visit anyone else, consider wearing a mask to protect yourself!
One thing you can do to minimize spreading your germs is to cough and sneeze into your elbow or a tissue instead of your open mouth. If you don’t have a tissue handy and you really have to cough, cover your mouth with your fist or place a tissue over it. Another option is to blow your nose into a paper towel or napkin. Or you can simply hold your breath and cover your mouth and nose with your forearm or elbow.
Other things to avoid doing
If you have an allergy to eggs, dairy products or nuts, avoid eating or drinking anything containing these substances. If you have food allergies, check with your doctor to ensure you don’t have any reactions to specific foods.
Also, avoid sharing drinks, cigarettes and drugs with anyone who is sick, and stay away from crowds whenever possible. The more people you run into, the greater your chances of transmitting the virus to others.
Take medicine properly
Your best bet for avoiding sickness is to avoid getting sick in the first place. If you do get sick, follow your doctor’s instructions carefully. Make sure you get enough rest and drink plenty of fluids. Avoid alcohol and caffeine. And don’t hesitate to call your doctor if you notice symptoms that seem unusual or bothersome.
After reading this article you may also have a question that how long does the flu last in human body? So for that we don’t have a specific answer but if you take all of your medicine which is being prescribed a well educated doctor then you will be able to cure it as soon as possible. But keep one thing in mind that you have to take all the medicines continuously without breaks.