Flu (Influenza): Causes, Symptoms, Types & Treatment

 Know about Flu

The flu is a contagious respiratory infection that affects the nose, throat, and lungs and is caused by numerous influenza viruses. It can cause mild to severe discomfort and can even prove to be fatal in some cases. Some people, such as the elderly, children, and certain medical conditions, are particularly vulnerable to severe flu complications.  

Types of Flu Virus

Influenza A


Humans, birds, pigs, horses, and other creatures are all susceptible to this virus. H1N1 and H3N2 are the strains that impact humans and are the most dangerous strains of flu.

Avian Flu

H5N1, often known as bird flu, is a highly contagious variant of influenza A that affects birds. Humans are affected when they come into direct contact with diseased birds.

Influenza B

This virus infects humans and causes milder symptoms than influenza A. It is also part of the seasonal flu vaccine.

Influenza C

This virus induces minor discomfort in people and is less common than influenza A and B. The flu vaccine is ineffective against influenza C.

Common Flu Symptoms


Influenza or flu can induce several symptoms ranging from mild to severe and can even prove fatal. Flu typically strikes without warning. People who have the flu commonly encounter some or all of these symptoms—fever or shivers, cough, sore throat, nasal congestion, muscular or body aches, headaches, and fatigue or exhaustion. Vomiting and diarrhea may arise in certain people; although, these indicators are more likely to be visible in children than in adults.

The flu can infect anyone and spreads quickly when an infected person coughs or sneezes. After being infected with the virus, people usually begin to feel ill one to four days later. The flu usually comes on rapidly and makes you feel much worse than a cold. If you have asthma or lung problems, you are at a higher risk of developing pneumonia due to the flu.

How Does the Flu Spread?


Most experts concur that flu viruses are transmitted by tiny droplets produced when flu patients cough, sneeze or talk. People close by may inhale these droplets, which may settle in their mouths or noses. The flu virus enters your body via your nose or mouth or by accidentally touching a contaminated surface and after that touching the nose, eyes, or mouth. These droplets can travel a considerable distance, up to six feet in some cases.

Every year, between 5% to 20% of the population in the United States catch the flu. If you get the flu, remember that it is the most contagious the first three to four days after one starts to show symptoms. One can pass the virus on to others as soon as one day after being exposed to it and as late as five to seven days after symptoms appear.

People with a compromised immune system, the elderly, and children under five years of age may be more susceptible to the virus.

Risks for Flu Complications


Even healthy people can have flu and major flu-related problems, but some people are at a higher risk of having significant flu-related complications if they become infected. This includes individuals aged 65 or older, people with chronic medical illnesses, such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease, pregnant women, and children under five.

Pneumonia, ear infections, sinus infections, and worsening symptoms of existing diseases, such as congestive heart failure, asthma, and diabetes, are possible flu risks.

How to Prevent Seasonal Flu?

The first and most crucial step in flu prevention is to take a flu vaccine every year. The flu vaccine has been demonstrated to lower flu-related symptoms and the risk of significant flu complications, which can lead to hospitalization or even death. The CDC also recommends taking simple precautions, such as avoiding sick people, covering coughs and sneezes, and washing hands often to help decrease the spread of bacteria that cause respiratory infections such as flu.

Day-to-day things to keep yourself and your family healthy are maintaining good cleanliness, eating a balanced diet, and exercising regularly. Do not share dining utensils or drinks, and wash your hands properly. When you can't wash your hands, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Try to keep your hands away from your eyes, nose, and mouth.

Flu Versus Cold


People frequently confuse the flu with a bad cold since both of them are contagious. A runny or blocked nose, a sore throat, a cough, chest discomfort, and weariness are common symptoms of a cold as well as the flu. There are, nevertheless, some noticeable distinctions between the two. A cold does not usually cause fever; the flu does. A cold's symptoms generally appear gradually, while flu symptoms might appear suddenly. Cold symptoms are milder than flu symptoms. A person who has the flu may feel fatigued for several weeks after that. The flu is more likely to cause complications, and it can be fatal.

Diagnosis, Treatment, and Side-Effects


Influenza illness is difficult to distinguish from other respiratory infections, according to the World Health Organization. As a result, the World Health Organization (WHO) defines 'Influenza-like Illness' (ILI) as an acute respiratory infection with a temperature of 38°C (100.4° F) or above and a cough that started within the last ten days.

The clinical diagnosis of flu is difficult to make and is prone to error—kids and the elderly, in particular, may not exhibit typical flu symptoms at first. If you seem to have the flu, avoid going to work or school. Drink plenty of water and take a couple of days off to rest. If you test positive for the flu virus, your doctor may prescribe antiviral medications to help your body fight the infection and alleviate symptoms. The best predictor of influenza is the symptom of sudden onset of fever and cough.

Lab testing using nasal oozing, nasopharyngeal aspirate, throat swab, endotracheal aspirates and washes, and bronchoalveolar lavage samples eliminates the need for unnecessary further tests and antibiotic medications.

A swab test is one of two primary tests for flu diagnosis. To check for the presence of the flu virus, a sample is obtained from your nose or throat. The second way of diagnosis is a nasal aspirate. To test for the flu virus, a saline solution is injected into the nose and subsequently extracted.

The most effective flu treatment is different for different people. After getting the flu vaccine, a few people have a headache or a low-grade fever for approximately a day. If the symptoms are recognized and treated within 48 to 72 hours, the course of sickness may be shortened. If you have any worrying symptoms, you should contact your doctor if you have an underlying chronic heart or lung problem. The flu vaccine usually has no adverse effects. You should not get another flu vaccine if you have ever had a serious allergic response to one.

Ayurvedic Flu Recovery Tips

Influenza, according to Ayurveda, is caused by an imbalance of the Kapha and Vata Doshas. Excess Vata decreases the digestive fire in the body, giving you shivers. The Ayurvedic treatment for influenza includes calming agitated bodily energies, eliminating excess mucus, restoring peripheral circulation, improving digestion, and strengthening immunity. Ayurvedic home therapies for minimizing the onset of risky flu symptoms and facilitating recovery are as follows:

The Goodness of Tulsi Tea

Tulsi is regarded as one of the strongest Ayurvedic herbs. Tulsi can treat cases of cold and flu as it is ideal for reducing headaches and fevers, relieving congestion, and supporting digestion. People suffering from the flu should drink one or two cups of tulsi-infused beverage each day, as the natural flavor is ideal for fighting a cold. Tulsi should be avoided during pregnancy or have a high-pitta condition like acid reflux or hot flashes.

Re-energizing Ashwagandha


This adaptogenic herb has been found to lower stress levels and improve immunological function. It is an adaptogen that aids in the restoration of endurance, energy, and stamina needed to battle the flu. It's a nervine tonic herb that energizes the body when it needs it during the day and calms overactive nerves at night, allowing for easy and peaceful sleep. Take 500 mg of the whole root after meals to help fight the flu.

Ayurvedic Self-massage

Shirodhara Treatment

Oiling the skin helps to maintain the health of the skin microbiome, which promotes our immunity and the active communication between skin microorganisms, environmental microbes, gut microbes, and overall body function. Applying oil to the skin can help to calm the neurons and the central nervous system, which requires a lot of energy to combat the flu.

Warm Salt Water Gargle

100% Natural Plant Protein Powder - Vegan Protein Shake


In a half cup of warm water, dissolve a half teaspoon of high-quality Himalayan or sea salt. Gargling warm salt water clears the throat of bacteria and germs while also loosening sticky mucus. Gargle twice a day while sick and at least once a day after the flu is treated.

It helps to carefully distinguish the common cold from the flu. It would help you take necessary actions like ensuring you do not infect the other person, given that it is contagious, and take proper medication. We strongly recommend opting for ayurvedic flu recovery tips as they are proven to provide relief effectively. 

Authored by: Bhavishya Pahwa

About the Author: Bhavishya Pahwa is a budding writer who has always confided in a pen. He believes that art is a cure-all and that introspection followed by writing can add to the sanity of the world.

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