Spotting an influenza infection!
Influenza (also known as the flu) refers to an infectious virus which affects primarily the respiratory tract. There are three forms that may cause outbreaks: type A, B and C; type A and B are particularly associated with causing infection in people. The virus may spread through the air; transferred through sneezing and coughing. The symptoms of an infection can vary from mild to serious and these typically occur after two days following infection. Common symptoms of influenza include weakness, fever, headache, malaise and loss of appetite. Many patients recover from this within a week with rest and use of analgesics such as aspirin, while in others complications of influenza may arise.
Certain illnesses can manifest in a similar way to influenza – this is often referred to as flu-like symptoms. It is important to be aware of these presentations that could signify the presence of another underlying and possibly more severe condition:
- Persistent nausea and vomiting
- Aversion to bright lights
- Stiff neck
It is often the case that you do not need to get medical attention for a flu. However, it may be advisable to seek treatment where symptoms worsen for instance you develop difficulty breathing, chest pain or where you suspect you may be suffering with another disease. In this case treatment may call for the use of antivirals and/or antibiotics (in cases of secondary bacterial infection).
Measures such as regular hand washing and up-to-date flu vaccinations which are frequently advocated by health workers may reduce the spread of flu.