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Flu is an acute viral disease of the respiratory tract caused by the influenza virus.
The virus is carried in the airborne respiratory droplets in infected people and is usually passed on in crowded areas and in enclosed spaces and also through direct contact with respiratory secretions in infected individuals. Hand contamination is a possible source of transmission ie touching door handles bannisters etc
There are 3 different types of flu and epidemics occur every year from November to April in the UK.
Annual epidemics result in 3 – 5 million cases and up to 500 000 deaths
Most deaths associated with influenza in industrialised countries occur in persons over 65 years of age although children and young adults are also at risk.
Incubation – short, 1-3 days.
Convalescence – recovery is usual within 2-3 weeks but post viral complications can be up to 6 weeks.
Complications include: viral pneumonitis, bacterial pneumonia, otitis media and exacerbation of underlying chronic conditions.
Severe illness and death during annual influenza epidemics occur primarily among those in the high risk group category i.e. over 65yrs, chronic medical conditions, pregnancy and immunosuppression.
DO YOU WANT TO PASS THIS VIRUS TO YOUR LOVED ONES?
Signs and symptoms of flu: Fever, chills, headache, aches and pains, congested nose and sneezing, sore throat and dry cough.
There are antiviral drugs available that can be used to prevent or treat flu but only under special circumstances. Usually it’s the symptoms of the flu that are
Vaccination is 70%-80%effective
|Fever||Sometimes, usually mild||Usual; higher (37.7-40 C; occasionally higher, especially in young children); lasts 3 to 4 days|
|General Aches, Pains||Slight||Usual; often severe|
|Fatigue, Weakness||Sometimes||Usual; can last 2 to 3 weeks|
|Extreme Exhaustion||Never||Usual; at the beginning of the illness|
|Chest Discomfort, Cough||Mild to moderate; hacking cough||Common; can become severe|
|Complications||Sinus congestion; middle ear infection||Sinusitis, bronchitis, ear infection, pneumonia; can be life-threatening|
|Prevention||Wash hands often; avoid close contact with anyone with a cold||Wash hands often; avoid close contact with anyone who has flu symptoms; get the annual flu vaccine|
|Treatment||Decongestants; pain reliever/fever reducer medicines||Decongestants, pain relievers, or fever reducers are available over the counter; over-the-counter cough and cold medicines should not be given to young children; prescription antiviral drugs for flu may be given in some cases; call your doctor for more information about treatment.|