What is the flu?
Influenza is an infectious disease caused by the Influenza virus. It is a highly contagious condition due to the ease with which it is transmitted from one individual to another.
It is transmitted more frequently in the coldest seasons of the year.
The flu virus can be of three types: A, B, and C. The latter is not epidemic and their symptoms are milder than in the other two cases. Type B occurs in localized outbreaks. And, on the other hand, type A is the one with the highest degree of variation, receiving different subtype denominations.
These variations are produced by the mutation of proteins H and N (antigens), which prevents people from becoming immune to this disease once they have suffered it, because the antibodies produced by the body to combat an attack are useless to defend themselves the following year.
Among the population groups most at risk of infection are schoolchildren and adults from the age of 65, for whom vaccination campaigns are carried out once a year.
The contagion is produced by the saliva projected into the air when an infected individual sneezes, it remains floating in the environment or rests on nearby surfaces, when it comes into contact with a new individual the infection occurs.
The great problem of this disease lies in the possibility that the virus has to mutate to adapt to different species, there have been cases of infection among birds, pigs, cows and humans. This condition turns the virus into an infectious agent that is difficult to exterminate.
Causes of the flu
Normally the infection takes 1 to 4 days to manifest symptoms, during this period of time an individual carrier can infect others with the virus.
Closed environments in which large groups of people live together are common for contagion to occur exponentially, becoming an epidemic. These places are usually schools, old people’s homes and residences and very crowded places in general.
This condition is usually confused with a cold, but in the case of influenza the alterations in the respiratory mucosa occur in a short period of time, which makes the symptoms appear with greater intensity and also these are prolonged for longer. Some of the signs that this disease manifests are:
- Fever (Above 38 degrees)
- Abundant mucus
- Difficulty breathing
- Headache and sore throat
- Tiredness, muscle pain, and general physical discomfort
- Lack of appetite
- Stomach upset (vomiting and diarrhea) in children
These symptoms usually subside after a few days, although they can last up to two weeks. However, it is important to pay attention to it because if it is not cured it can lead to more serious conditions (asthma, bronchitis or pneumonia), especially in individuals belonging to risk groups.
It is common to receive information through the media and the government when the cold seasons of the year are approaching, vaccination campaigns are carried out and the population is alerted to take extreme care in order to prevent contagion.
The use of the vaccine is usually advised for older people and children, however, this measure is optional.
It is also common to use drugs to alleviate the symptoms produced, which are more effective if consumed during the first three days of the disease, and may even reduce the time of suffering.
As always, it is recommended to follow a series of basic advices that will help to maintain the health and to prevent the contagion, or in case of having already been infected, to diminish the symptoms. Some of them are:
- Drink plenty of fluids.
- Rest as long as necessary.
- Maintain the hygiene of commonly used objects such as door handles, toys, telephones, etc.
- Wash hands regularly.
- Cover your mouth and nose well when sneezing or coughing.
- Throw away tissues immediately after use.
- Do not share with other people cutlery or glasses.
- Keep the rooms well ventilated and allow the sun to pass through them.
- Reduce physical contact with others.
- Eat hot foods. The body uses heat to fight the virus (this is why fever occurs).
Home Remedies for the Flu
A visit to the doctor is always recommended to determine whether or not a patient suffers an infection of this type, in order to receive the appropriate pharmacological treatment. However, there are several natural products that will help alleviate symptoms and reduce recovery time.
The following list details some of them and the different ways to supply them:
- Eucalyptus: Due to its medicinal properties, it is widely recommended for the treatment of diseases that affect the respiratory tract.
One of the most common ways to use it is adding a few drops of the essence of this plant to a container of hot water, the affected should cover his head with a towel and inhale the vapors for about 10 minutes.
- Rosemary: It is a powerful analgesic, antibiotic, anti-inflammatory, antitussive and expectorant, can be used like eucalyptus to perform vaporizations or you can also add a few drops of essential oil to the bath water.
- Elderberries: Helps strengthen the immune system thanks to its high content of vitamin A, B and C. In order to take advantage of its benefits, an infusion can be elaborated, in the elaboration of which we will use a spoonful of berries for each cup of boiling water, both ingredients are left to rest for a few minutes. This infusion should be taken at least three times a day.
- Ginger and lemon: Ginger helps reduce headaches and muscle aches, is anti-inflammatory and helps fight respiratory diseases and lemon has a high vitamin C content, is antibiotic, anti-inflammatory and detoxifying. An infusion can be made by adding a teaspoon of freshly grated ginger in half a cup of hot water and the juice of half a lemon. If desired, this mixture can be sweetened by adding a teaspoon of honey, which will reinforce the properties of the other ingredients.