June 17, 2011

Things You Should Know About Flu Symptoms

flu symptomsInfluenza or more commonly known as ‘Flu’ is an infectious disease caused by Influenza virus. Often we confuse flu with common cold which is not the case. But often it becomes difficult to differentiate between these two. Influenza includes cold and many other symptoms like fever, headache, dry cough and pain in the muscles.

Influenza virus is taxonomically placed in the Orthomyxoviridae family. It is a RNA virus that can affect any mammal and birds. Transmission of influenza virus occurs through aerosol. Typically when an infected person coughs, sneezes, droplets are formed. When a healthy person inhales these droplets, the virus gets passed through to the upper respiratory tract and multiplies. It can also be transmitted through feces, saliva and blood. Influenza virus can withstand low temperature. It can sustain more than a month at 0˚C and even more in sub-zero temperature. But they are vulnerable to high temperature and common detergents and disinfectants.

Flu has shown seasonal trends. It is common during the change of seasons like from winter to summer and summer to rainy season. It caused pandemic in the 20th Century and killed millions of people throughout the world. Every time there was an influenza epidemic, a new virus strain was identified.

The symptoms of flu can differ person to person depending upon their level of immunity. In persons having high immunity level, it can be only mild degree cold and sore throat. But for persons with low body constitution, it can become fully fledged fever, dry cough, body ache and others. The common symptoms of flu are –

Fever: – high rise of temperature. It can be 101˚F (38.3˚C) in adults and in children it may be as high as 103˚F to 105˚F (39.4˚C to 40.5˚C). Often the fever is associated with chill mimicking symptoms of malaria, although rigor is usually absent.

Sweating: – fever is associated with sweating. And if antipyretic (medicines to lower down fever) is used, there is profuse sweating. This is also another mimicking symptom to malaria.

Sore throat and dry cough – it may vary from different persons. Those who have high immunity or suffered from flu earlier, only have mild to moderate sore throat. This is due to development of antibodies in blood. But for the first time victims and especially in the children, a constant bout of dry cough prevails.

Headache – it occurs mainly in frontal and posterior aspect of the skull. Frontal headache is typically around the eyes.

Body ache – severe pain in the body especially in the back, hands and legs. The pain is characteristically of muscular in nature.

Running nose – constant serous discharge from the nose is seen. Otherwise, the patient may complain of stuffy nose.

Generalized weakness – extreme fatigue is another common symptom. Patient may feel lethargic all the times.

Anorexia – as with other viral infection, loss of appetite is present in a patient with flu.

Red eyes and face – high grade of fever can cause flushed face and red eyes mimicking conjunctivitis. There may be watery eyes also.

Diarrhea, vomiting and abdominal pain – these mainly occurs in case of children.

Influenza is a self-limiting disease. Symptoms of flu disappear within a week or two. But when you know the flu symptoms, you can take proper precaution and act accordingly.