FLU – prevention and treatment

Every autumn, when children go to kindergarten and school, and it gets colder outside, the number of cases of influenza increases sharply. What is the flu, how does it manifest itself, how to treat it and, most importantly, whether it is possible to protect against it. Influenza belongs to a large group of acute respiratory viral infections (ARVI), because caused by a virus, transmitted by airborne droplets and affects the respiratory system.

Influenza is an extremely contagious acute infectious disease. It is caused by viruses of type A, B, C. The peak of the incidence of influenza is observed in winter. The source of infection is a sick person. Unfortunately, at present it is not customary to take sick leave and get sick at home. A person with a cold travels in public transport, infecting a huge number of people along the way, comes to work, where he infects all his colleagues (after all, the susceptibility to influenza is universal). Those, in turn, coming home, infect their family members, including young children. The transmission of infection is carried out by airborne droplets. The virus from the mucous membrane of the respiratory tract is released in huge concentration when sneezing, coughing, talking, breathing. With the flow of inhaled air, it enters the mucous membrane of a healthy organism and begins to multiply there.

From the moment the virus enters the body of a healthy person until the first symptoms appear, it takes from several hours to two days.

The disease begins acutely, or even suddenly (in the morning the child goes to school healthy, and a few hours later the mother gets a call and is told that he is sick). First, the body temperature rises to high numbers (39-40C). The rise in temperature is accompanied by chills, dizziness, general weakness, weakness, muscle and joint pain. Children complain of a headache, appetite disappears, sleep worsens, there may be nausea and vomiting (often triggered by medication).

Signs of damage to the respiratory system are added in the form of coughing, pain or sore throat, nasal congestion, scanty discharge from the nose.

The duration of the flu is about ten days, while a high fever can persist for up to five days. After the flu, the child may continue to complain of increased fatigue, weakness, headache, irritability, and insomnia. These are signs of post-infectious asthenia (exhaustion).

Sometimes, the disease can be mild, in which the temperature remains normal or rises slightly, the symptoms of damage to the respiratory system are poorly expressed.

In addition, the disease can be severe, accompanied by a darkening of consciousness, delirium, hallucinations, and convulsions.

Influenza is dangerous for its complications, among which the most common, especially in young children, are otitis media (ear inflammation), bronchitis, pneumonia. Meningitis, meningoencephalitis and encephalitis (damage to the membranes and substances of the brain), myocarditis (damage to the heart) are much less common. Influenza usually does not require any tests to make a diagnosis.

Flu treatment is most often done at home. Hospitalization is required only if complications develop.

It is advisable to isolate the sick person from other family members (separate room). Care for him must be carried out in a disposable mask, which must be changed at least once every two hours. The room where the patient is located must be constantly ventilated. The child should be fed according to his appetite, not force-fed. It is necessary to drink plenty of water in the form of warm tea, alkaline mineral waters.

To reduce the temperature, children are used antipyretic. With strong arousal and insomnia, mild herbal sedatives are prescribed. With nasal congestion, vasoconstrictor agents are indicated.

There is a large arsenal of antiviral agents to fight the virus. Some of them prevent the multiplication of the virus in the human body, others stimulate the production of the body’s own antiviral factors (in particular interferon), and still others, being interferons themselves, compensate for its deficiency in the patient’s body. All antiviral drugs must be taken from the first hours of the disease.

Considering the formidable complications of influenza, it is necessary to touch upon the issues of its prevention.

Sick young woman at home on the sofa with a cold, she is covering with a blanket and blowing her nose

Early diagnosis of the disease and isolation of the patient are of great importance.

A sick adult should stay at home for the entire period of the illness (seven to ten days). At home, a sick person, if possible, is placed in a separate room, where only the adult caring for him can enter. Children are strictly prohibited from entering this room. Patient care is carried out in a mask.

During a period of increasing morbidity, it is not recommended to attend social events (birthdays, children’s parties, theaters), as well as visit the whole family to various hypermarkets and pharmacies. Use public transport with caution (carefully weigh the need to travel with a child).

Of the medications, the same antiviral agents are used as for treatment, but in lower, prophylactic doses.

The most relevant and effective prevention of influenza https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Influenza today is vaccination.

For prophylaxis, live (for spraying on the nasal mucosa), inactivated (“killed”) vaccines, as well as subunit and split vaccines (the most effective) are used, they are administered as an injection.

Children over six months of age, especially children attending kindergartens (preschoolers and schoolchildren), adolescents and adults, especially over 65, are subject to vaccination. I would like to pay special attention to working people (dads, grandmothers, grandfathers) who have very young children. After all, it is the adult family members who are the source of infection for their baby, which has not yet been published. Please don’t forget this. You should get the flu shot first.