Flu or influenza is caused by a virus. Having a cold, cough, or sore throat does not necessarily indicate an infection with the influenza virus. Many people call such complaints ‘flu,’ when it really isn’t. How do you recognize real flu and what are the symptoms and risks?
Flu, what are the symptoms? If someone becomes infected with an influenza virus, the first symptoms appear after 24 hours to more than 70 hours after infection. Various symptoms that also occur with the flu can also occur with infection with other viruses. Known flu symptoms when infected with an influenza virus are:
With the flu, there is often a feeling of complete malaise. The patient does not feel well at all and is not fit. The immune system resists the virus. Because the flu virus multiplies rapidly, flu can be a heavy burden on the immune system. As a result, other viruses and bacteria can also cause new infections, such as pneumonia.
Sometimes an infection with an influenza virus is aggressive and all kinds of unpleasant complications can occur, resulting in death in the worst case. Fortunately, these are exceptions, but you should still take flu viruses seriously. However, if you are in good health, there is no reason to assume that your body cannot cope with the flu virus.
After a few days of sniffling, coughing, and worrying, it usually gets better and shortly afterward you are fully recovered. Weakened people, old people, very small children, or people who are already sick are more at risk of complications.
There are several types of influenza viruses. Not every flu is caused by the same type of virus. The flu viruses are known to be highly contagious. The virus particles can be transmitted in many ways. By talking to each other, laughing, coughing, shaking hands, using each other’s glass, table tops that have been coughed on, being close to each other, and so on.
Preventing Flu Infection
Influenza viruses are very contagious, which is why epidemics often occur. You cannot actually prevent contagion completely, but you can reduce the risk of infection. Keeping a distance from each other, covering the mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing, washing hands regularly, and not visiting each other if there is an infection can prevent or contain the spread.
When there is a flu epidemic, it is often easier said than done because people come into contact with each other everywhere. In buses, cars, trams, metro, buildings, supermarkets, markets, schools, houses, tram stops, cafeterias, and so on. People also easily infect each other in the GP’s waiting room, where you may be sitting for your complaints.
There is therefore no other option than to only use common areas if there really is no other way. Do not visit the sick and avoid crowds if there have been a lot of flu cases. It is also important to live a healthy life so that your immune system is healthy. Make sure you eat enough fruit and vegetables all year round, because (accumulated) vitamin C increases your resistance.
People who belong to high-risk groups are more likely to develop flu complications. Small children and the elderly can also become very ill from the flu. If you receive an annual flu vaccine and still develop symptoms of the flu, contact your doctor.
Even if there is a high fever, shortness of breath, spots on the skin, very lethargic behavior, or other symptoms that you find strange, it is advisable to call the doctor for consultation. Influenza usually passes after a few days and then the patient recovers. If this is not the case, call the doctor as well.
Flu Jab, How Does It Work?
A flu shot is a vaccine containing weak influenza viruses. Because the viruses are dead or weakened, your immune system can easily produce antibodies against the viruses. If you later become infected with the live virus, this saves time.
You already have antibodies and the immune system recognizes the virus. This allows the virus in your body to be quickly fought off. You will then become less seriously ill or even not ill at all. The flu jab is given on prescription to high-risk groups in the autumn.
Had A Flu Jab, And Still Got The Flu?
The flu shot offers protection against influenza viruses, which are present in the flu shot in a weakened form at that time. If a new flu virus appears, as was the case with the swine flu, the flu shot offers no protection against it.
An attempt will be made to make a vaccine against the new virus in time and this will prevent the spread of the new flu virus. Finally, there are also several other viruses that can cause the same symptoms as the flu. That is why many people often refer to a cold or sore throat or cough and fever as ‘flu’, while there does not necessarily have to be an infection with an influenza virus.
Flu And Antibiotics
Viruses cannot be treated with antibiotics. That is why a doctor will not just prescribe antibiotics if you have normal flu-like symptoms. However, viruses pave the way for bacteria, which can therefore strike more easily.
Bacteria can be combated with antibiotics, which is why your doctor may decide to give antibiotics if there are complaints that give rise to this. This could be, for example, coughing up green or throat mucus, or a respiratory infection where bacteria make the flu more serious.