What is the flu (influenza)?
Influenza (flu), also called seasonal flu, is a highly contagious respiratory illness caused by diverse influenza viruses. Influenza is different from the common cold. Every year, millions of Americans get affected by the flu. Sometimes it causes mild illness. It can also be serious or even deadly, especially for people over 65, newborn babies, and people with certain chronic illnesses. It occurs predominantly in the winter months.
This virus can also spread by touching the mouth and then the eyes with the same infectious hands. Washing hands frequently reduces the risk of infection. In preparation for the flu season, advanced healthcare options exist such as Biomagnetism which attempts to restore balance to the body naturally through the use of magnets.
Types of Influenza
There are 4 types of seasonal influenza viruses, types A, B, C, and D. Influenza A and B viruses circulate and cause seasonal epidemics of disease.
Influenza A: Influenza A viruses can be found in many different animals, including birds and mammals, as well as humans. These viruses are characterized by surface proteins, including hemagglutinin (“H”) and neuraminidase (“N”). Based on two proteins on the top of the virus, Influenza A viruses are divided into subtypes: the neuraminidase (N) and the hemagglutinin (H). There are 11 different neuraminidase subtypes and 18 different hemagglutinin subtypes.
Influenza B: Seasonal epidemics can be caused by Influenza B viruses that typically only affect humans. Victoria and Yamagata are the two lineages of influenza B. Influenza B viruses mutate more slowly than influenza A viruses.
Influenza C: This type of flu can affect people but most often only causes mild illness.
Influenza D: It primarily affects cattle and is not known to infect or cause illness in people.
Signs and symptoms of the flu
Initially, the flu may look like a common cold with a sore throat, sneezing, and runny nose. And although a cold can be bothersome, the flu could feel much worse.
Symptoms and signs of the flu include:
- Muscle pains and aches in the legs
- Sweating and shivering
- Dry, persistent cough
- Breathing difficulty
- Fatigue and weakness
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Sore throat
- Chest pain
- Eye pain
- Diarrhea and Vomiting
Influenza can be spread easily from person to person and is contagious. The viruses spread mainly by droplets of respiratory fluids sent through the air when someone infected with the virus coughs or sneezes. Other people inhale the airborne virus and can become infected.
The flu virus can live on some surfaces for up to 24 hours. This means that, in some cases, the flu can be spread when someone touches a surface (e.g., doorknobs, countertops, telephones) that has the virus on it and then touches their nose, mouth, or eyes. People with the virus are likely contagious from day one. Individuals with weakened immune systems may be contagious for a slightly longer time.
Controlling the spread of infection
- Washing Hands: Washing your hands often or using alcohol-based hand sanitizers.
- Avoid touching your face: Avoid touching your mouth, nose, and eyes.
- Cover your sneezes and coughs: Sneeze or Cough into elbow or tissue.
- Clean the surfaces: Regularly clean frequently touched surfaces to prevent the spread of infection.
- Avoid crowds: Flu spreads easily in crowded areas like child care centers, schools, office buildings, department stores, auditoriums, and public transportation. You can reduce the chances of infection by avoiding crowds during peak flu season.
The risk factors of developing the flu or its complications include:
- Age: Adults 65 years old or older, and children age 6 months to 5 years old are likely to contract the virus.
- Living or working conditions: People living in nursing facilities or hospitals are at a higher risk of catching the flu.
- Weakened immune system: A weakened immune system due to unhealthy habits and pre-existing conditions can also increase your risk of developing complications.
- Chronic illnesses: Chronic conditions such as diabetes, asthma, nervous system diseases, heart disease, metabolic disorders, airway abnormality, and kidney, liver, or blood disease increase the risk of influenza complications.
- Aspirin usage under age 19: Individuals younger than 19 years with long-term aspirin therapy are at a higher risk of developing Reye’s syndrome if infected with influenza.
- Pregnancy: Pregnant women are more likely to be witnessing influenza complications, specifically in the second and third trimesters.
There is no guaranteed way to avoid the influenza virus. There are numerous ways to build up immunity, minimize exposure, and reduce the risk of infection. Follow a healthy, nutrient-rich eating plan, which includes eating a variety of fruits and vegetables, which are full of antioxidants and vitamins such as vitamin C, to promote good health. Vitamin C alone has proven itself effective in over 148 scientific studies to alleviate or prevent infections caused by bacteria, virus and protozoa. (Http://ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5409678/). In this cited article, the authors conclude, “that vitamin C plays a role in preventing, shortening, and alleviating diverse infections.” If you’re not feeling well, make sure to get plenty of rest and stay well hydrated. Through Biomagnetism, we may help sustain normal metabolism for our bodies through pH balance and also help support the immune system in its battle against Influenza and similar respiratory health conditions. Contact Health experts like Certified Biomagnetism therapists, who will be able to give you proper guidelines to lead a healthier life.
Taking care of your health is important!!