Influenza, commonly known as ‘flu’ is an illness caused by viruses that infect the
respiratory tract. Compared to common cold, influenza is a more severe illness.
Influenza is caused by a virus which attacks our body’s cells, resulting in various
effects depending on the strain of the virus.
Some Common Human Diseases
There are many strains of influenza virus. The virus mutates all the time and new
variations (strains) arise. This constant changing enables the virus to evade the
immune system of its host. Unfortunately immunity against one strain (which is
conferred by exposure or immunisation) does not protect against other strains. A
person infected with influenza virus develops antibodies against that virus; as the
virus changes, the antibodies against the virus do not recognize the changed virus,
and influenza can recur, caused by the changed or mutated virus.
Typical symptoms of influenza include:
fever (Usually 100° F to 103° F in adults and often even higher in children).
(ii) respiratory tract infection symptoms such as, cough, sore throat, running
nose, headache, pain in the muscles, and extreme fatigue.
Although nausea and vomiting and diarrhoea can sometimes accompany Influenza
infection, especially in children, gastrointestinal symptoms are rarely prominent.
Most people who get flu, recover completely in 1 to 2 weeks, but some people
develop serious and potentially life-threatening complications, such as pneumonia.
Treatment and Control
(i) Much of the illness and death caused by influenza can be prevented by annual
influenza vaccination. Influenza vaccine is specifically recommended for those
who arc at high risk for complications with chronic diseases of the heart, lungs
or kidneys, diabetes, or severe forms of anemia.
(ii) The persons suffering from influenza should
drink plenty of fluids
take symptom relief with paracetamol, aspirin (not in children under the
age of 16) or ibuprofen etc. as recommended by the doctor.
Consult doctor immediately for treatment.