How To Tackle The Flu Before It Tackles You: Everyday Ways To Prevent Another Alarming Outbreak Beyond The Flu Shot

How To Tackle The Flu Before It Tackles You: Everyday Ways To Prevent Another Alarming Outbreak Beyond The Flu Shot

How To Tackle The Flu Before It Tackles You: Everyday Ways To Prevent Another Alarming Outbreak Beyond The Flu Shot

Influenza, commonly known as “flu”, has been affecting around 5% to 20% of the U.S. population on average per year and roughly 200,000 Americans are hospitalized (mostly children) because of it. As common as it may be, 3,000 to 49,000 people die each year in the U.S. due to the complications brought on by flu. The healthcare costs incurred to treat patients with the flu has generated a combined cost of $10 billion for hospitalization and outpatient doctor visits. With these statistics, it is clear that influenza is an illness you should not take for granted.

What Is Influenza?

The basic thing you need to know what is influenza is that it is a virus and not a bacterial infection which can be treated with antibiotics. It is highly contagious and caused by the actual caused by influenza virus.  People commonly confuse cold with Influenza (flu) since they may have the same symptoms but they are both different illnesses. Flu has worse manifestations than cold and the symptoms last longer than cold. Also, flu does not typically cause vomiting or diarrhea which most people though as “stomach flu” but is actually gastroenteritis.

Influenza does not only impact the U.S but the whole world community. An average of three to five million cases of severe influenza outbreaks occurs yearly all over the world. These outbreak occurrences depend largely on one's location and climate. The northern and southern parts of the world have outbreaks during winter while those who are near the equator can have it at any time of the year. In the 20 th century, influenza or flu has claimed millions of lives the moment it becomes pandemic. About 50 million people died during the Spanish influenza outbreak in1918, two million during an Asian outbreak in 1947 and one million during the Hong Kong flu outbreak.  

The influenza virus continues to evolve and adapt to our planet’s changing system. In June 2009, the World Health Organization announced a new type of influenza, the A/H1N1 virus which is also pandemic. Influenza does not only victimize humans, but also animals like pigs, horses, and birds which are commonly known as bird flu.

What Causes Influenza?

Influenza is caused by the influenza virus and not by any bacteria or fungus. Viruses are smaller than bacteria and are a small organism. However, viruses are also considered at nonliving for they cannot survive with attaching to a host like the human body and reproducing in our cells.

There are four types or strains of flu viruses which give different degrees of effect in one’s body, the type A, B, C, and D; however, type D only affects cattle and has not been recorded to affect humans:

  1. Influenza A- Type A influenza virus is ever changing and has been the most common cause of massive flu epidemics in the world. Present variants of influenza A viruses found in people are influenza A (H1N1) and influenza A (H3N2) viruses. The A2 influenza virus (and other variants of influenza) is spread by touching the infected person has touched or sneezed into.  

  2. Influenza B- Type B flu virus, unlike the type A, is only found in humans. It was not as deadly as type A but still can be harmful if a person has other underlying medical conditions or if his immune system is weak like newborn babies or old people. Influenza B does not cause pandemics.

  3. Influenza C- Type C flu virus is less common and may only cause mild symptoms like upper respiratory tract illness than type A and B influenza. There is no vaccine available now to cover the influenza C strain virus.

How Do You Catch The Influenza Virus?

Influenza is one of the most contagious diseases that have ever existed. Knowing whether you have flu or not can be hard to properly diagnose because you may have just passed it to someone else before you knew you have it. Flu symptoms are usually prevalent five to seven days after you acquired it. Children may infect others for longer than 7 days depending on the strain.

An infected person can pass the influenza virus before getting sick as long as the virus is still alive in the body. You can have flu virus but not have any signs of it. These are main factors on why flu virus in highly transferable up to the point it becomes pandemic.

The influenza virus is spread mainly by one person to another by:

  1. Direct contact- like shaking hands, kissing, hugging, or any other form of touch to the infected person’s body part which had his droplets on it when he coughed or sneeze.

  2. Small droplets from the virus carrier- which may land on someone’s mouth or nose when the infected sneezed or a cough. People with flu can pass the virus up to 6 feet range once he coughed and sneezed, released the droplets and someone inhaled it to their lungs.

  3. Touching objects- which have been in contact with fluids or small droplets from a person with influenza virus. Examples are handkerchiefs, railings, elevator button, door handles, and other things we encounter every day.

What Are Influenza Or Flu Symptoms?

Influenza virus’ impact is different  in every individual. Some may show symptoms the day he becomes infected. Other may feel the effect on the third day or some may not even experience the symptoms at all. Flu usually lasts for four to five days but its symptoms can last up to seven days. If you are experiencing the following, you may have contracted the flu:

  • Congestion (less common with flu)- or also known as a stuffy nose. You may also have a runny nose, sinus pain, mucus build-up, and swollen nasal tissue;

  • Cough- can be irritating and embarrassing but it is your body’s way of protecting your lungs from irritants such as the virus; it gets mucus out of your lungs;

  • Itchy or watery eyes- tear drainage is also affected by the virus;

  • Sore throat- painful, dry, or scratchy feeling in the throat;

  • Fatigue- you may feel tired even if you are not doing anything. Some may have extreme fatigue like weakness, difficulty in sleeping, lack of focus, palpitations, chest pain, and headache;

  • Low fever- an oral temperature that is above 98.6° F (37° C) but lower than 100.4° F (38° C) for a period of 24 hours;

  • Headache and Body aches- the feeling of your body has beaten or swollen;

  • Cold sweats and shivers- if you feel cold but is sweating, you may just have flu

  • Gastrointestinal changes- it is most common among children like nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea

Is It A Cold Or Flu?

It is hard to confirm whether you have a cold versus the flu because they present very similar symptoms. Influenza and the cold are both caused by the virus affecting the respiratory system. Generally, the common cold has milder effects than influenza or flu. Flu virus’ effects are more intense and are more harmful as it leads to serious illnesses and health problems such as pneumonia, bacterial infections (due to the immune system being suppressed), and the need to be hospitalized.  Simple flu can take a life especially for newborn babies, those with a weak immune system, chronic disease and the elderly.   

Common cold affects the nasal part of the respiratory system. It has milder symptoms like a runny nose, headache, and sneezing. You can go on your day to day activities with cold, however, influenza or flu will make normal activities more painful and burdensome. Cold develops slowly and symptoms gradually show, unlike the flu. Cold can get away on its own without requiring treatment or medical attention. However, if a cough persists after the cold symptoms, you should see a doctor as bronchitis or inflammation could be present inside the lung airways. Colds are common during the spring and winter seasons and may last seven to 10 days.   

When Should I Go To The Doctor For My Flu Symptoms?

As common as it may seem, influenza virus can escalate to more serious complications depending on the health status of the infected. Here are the flu symptoms you need to watch out for. Once you experience them, you should seek out medical attention as soon as possible because your body can longer fight the virus anymore:

  • Difficulty in breathing- if you are already grasping for air or have to feel of drowning especially when lying down because it can be pneumonia;

  • Chest or stomach pain- if you feel that there’s something heavy put on your chest and your stomach pain is intolerable anymore;

  • Dizziness or lightheadedness- especially if you almost or already passed out;

  • Severe vomiting and diarrhea- which results  to dehydration and possible gastroenteritis

For children, the following are the red flags and you should immediately go to the emergency room or call an ambulance:  

  • Child’s lips or skin appear bluish (lack supply of oxygen)

  • Child can’t wake up or respond to you;

  • Child has a high fever (>103 F/40 C) with rashes

People who have been infected by influenza virus who also have a chronic sickness such as asthma, diabetes, HIV, AIDS, cancer, kidney failure, another chronic condition, those over 65, and pregnant women should be treated sooner for their flu symptoms.  

How Long Does The Flu Last?

Recovery from influenza varies among infected people just like its manifestations. For healthy individuals, flu lasts only for a short period of time and their immune system usually fights and destroys the virus by themselves and without medical treatment. Symptoms can be felt from one to four days after an individual has been exposed and infected by the virus. Flu lasts from five to seven days but can be shorter if you have the flu shot. Symptoms are also milder for people who have the flu vaccine. For those who have a weaker immune system, symptoms last longer and they still feel weak even if their symptoms are already resolved.

Flu can also last longer if you have a more severe strain of the influenza virus. Type A influenza strains are most likely to cause lasting symptoms and can lead to hospitalization or even death just like the AH1N1 virus. Children, elderly, and people with weaker immune systems and chronic diseases may remain infectious and sick longer than the healthy ones.

Best Disinfectant For Influenza

Since influenza is transmitted mainly through contact with an infected person and the things they touched, it is important to know a list of best disinfectant for influenza. These common household items are available at  Wholesale Janitorial Supply and can help lower the occurrence and spread of flu in your home and other places:

  1. Bleach- mix a half cup of your household bleach with a gallon of hot water. Then get a clean cloth and wipe down surfaces like cabinets, doorknobs, toilets, shower knob, and sinks. Do not store the mixture near fabrics because it may cause discoloration on them.

  1. Spray Disinfectant- disinfectant sprays believe to kill almost all of the viruses, fungi, and bacteria present in our homes. Among top brand is Lysol Disinfecting Spray. Just spray it in areas which are possibly infected such as doorknobs, furniture, and rooms. Always check for EPA- approved for killing germs on the label of your disinfectant spray.

  2. Disinfectant Wipes- use this best disinfectant for influenza for electronic items which are most frequently used like cellphones, remote control, tablets, and other appliances which have been touched by an infected person. They can be easily used and always on the go whether you are at the office or at home.

  3. Natural Disinfectant- if you have second thoughts on using best disinfectant for influenza with chemicals, you may want to try natural ingredients. Simple mix vinegar with hot water and wipe it to possible infected areas and objects. You might just have issues with the odor after. Another option is Simple Green, which is also believed to be a natural disinfectant.


10 Best Ways To Get Rid Of Influenza


Do these best ways to get rid of influenza and be back on your feet the soonest:

  1. Blow your nose the right way to get the mucus out. Blow gently to avoid other complications.

  2. Take time to rest and stay warm. Do not push yourself to work or go out. Have your socks, sweater, pajamas, and blankets on to stay warm to help regulate body heat.

  3. Gargle a mixture of salt and warm water to relieve a sore throat. You may also want to try apple cider vinegar mixed with warm water.  

  4. Have warm drinks only to soothe your nose and throat. A cup of tea can help you feel better. Avoid cold drinks if it causes irritation.

  5. Have a warm shower as this can help unclog your sinuses by increasing moisture in the air.

  6. Eat menthol cough drops to unblock nasal passages. You may also apply vapor inhaler gel under your nose to ease clogged nose which will help you breathe better.

  7. Put an extra pillow in your bed to relieve congested nasal passages.

  8. Avoid traveling by plane as much as possible because aside from the chances of infecting others, the pressure in the air can cause discomfort in your ears.

  9. Eat more fruits and vegetables.

  10. Stay hydrated by drinking fluids and eating soups. Complications from flu do not come from influenza itself but from dehydration.


Best Ways To Prevent Influenza

Prevention remains to be better than cure. Follow the following best ways to prevent influenza and survive the winter without getting infected by influenza virus:

  1. Have anti-influenza virus vaccine. It may not guarantee you not getting the virus but it will keep you away from the more severe strains.

  2. Control the humidity in your home or office through a humidifier.

  3. Avoid close contact with people who are infected. Stay at least three feet away from someone who is coughing or sneezing.

  4. Wear a face mask to cover your mouth and nose during flu season.

  5. Always wash your hands with soap and water to get rid of the germs.

  6. Have hand sanitizer ready if you cannot wash your hands.

  7. Keep your hand from touching your mouth and nose since the hands can transfer the virus from the infected object to your nose and mouth’s membrane.

  8. If you have flu, stay at home and rest so you will not spread the virus. Always cover your mouth when you cough and sneeze.

  9. If you are taking good care of someone who has flu, wear surgical gloves and mask to avoid spreading the germs.

  10. Put your own tissue to trash.

  11. Avoid food sharing with infected people or using their utensils and glasses.

  12. Keep your surroundings clean. Wash the linens; disinfect furniture and appliances, and other surfaces your house and office.

  13. Take vitamins to supplement the nutrients you do not get from your diet.

  14. Get the right amount sleep. Sleep deprivation weakens the immune system.

  15. Keep a healthy and active lifestyle. Always eat a balanced diet and make time for exercise.  






9th Apr 2018

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