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Viral Flu: The Most Commonly Asked Questions – Answered!

Contributed by: Nancy Dixit

Introduction

Influenza or flu is a viral disease that causes widespread illness every year.

It is a respiratory illness that results from a viral infection. The flu mostly affects your nose, throat, and lungs.

The flu is a seasonal infection that occurs most often during the winter and quickly spreads from person to person. Flu seasons vary in severity and duration from year to year.

People often confuse colds and flu. They are different, but you might have some of the same symptoms.

Most people get cold several times a year. On the contrary, people generally get the flu only once every few years

Through this article, we bring to you some insights into viral flu, including the symptoms, causes, and some commonly-asked FAQs.

Let’s begin with flu influenza

Flu or influenza is a highly contagious viral infection of the respiratory tract that can cause severe illness and life-threatening complications (including pneumonia).

It causes a high fever, body aches, a cough, and other symptoms. 

It affects people of almost all ages.

The flu is usually spread by breathing in droplets from coughs and sneezes that contain the virus.

Signs and symptoms of flu

Contracting the flu is even more likely if you have been in contact with someone who already has it.

The most common symptoms of the flu are:

Sudden onset of fever, cough (usually dry)HeadacheBody aches (especially in the head, lower back and legs)Severe malaise (feeling unwell)Sore throatRunny or stuffy noseChillsLoss of appetite

Causes of flu

Flu mostly spreads through droplets in the air when people with flu cough, sneeze or talk. It can spread from up to six feet away. 

You can also catch the flu if you touch something with the virus on it, and then touch your mouth, nose, or eyes.

The flu is caused by an influenza virus. There are four seasonal influenza viruses, namely A, B, C and D, that are responsible for causing flu.

Influenza type A and B viruses

Influenza type A and B viruses are the only influenza viruses known to cause flu pandemics.

They often lead to more people needing to go to the hospital, and more people dying from the flu.

Influenza type C

This type of virus causes a very mild respiratory illness or no symptoms at all. It does not cause epidemics.

It does not have the severe public health impact that influenza types A and B do.

Influenza D viruses

It primarily affects cattle and is not known to infect or cause illness in people.

Prevention and treatment

Treatment of flu with antiviral drugs can reduce influenza symptoms, shorten the duration of illness by one to two days, and prevent serious complications, like pneumonia.  

The most effective way to prevent the disease is vaccination. Safe and effective vaccines are available and have been used for more than 60 years. 

Immunisation and practising prevention measures for people who are at risk of complications from the flu are the best ways we can reduce the number of influenza infections and deaths.

Immunity from vaccination wanes over time so annual vaccination is recommended to protect against influenza.

Among healthy adults, the influenza vaccine provides protection. However, among the elderly, influenza vaccination may be less effective in preventing illness but reduces the severity of disease and incidence of complications and deaths.

People who work or live with people who are at risk of serious complications should also be immunised to avoid spreading the flu.

World Health Organization (WHO) recommends annual vaccination for:

Pregnant women at any stage of pregnancyChildren aged between 6 months to 5 yearsElderly individuals (aged more than 65 years)Individuals with chronic medical conditionsHealth-care workers

Frequently asked questions

Q1. What is influenza (also called flu)?

Ans: The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses that infect the nose, throat, and lungs.

It can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death. The best way to prevent the flu is by getting a flu vaccine each year.

Q2. Can I receive the flu vaccine and covid-19 vaccine on the same day?

Ans: You can receive your flu vaccine and your COVID-19 vaccine on the same day, one after the other if convenient. There is no time interval required between these vaccines.

Q3. How does Flu viral spread?

Ans: Most people get the flu viral when they breathe in tiny airborne droplets from the coughs or sneezes of someone who has the flu, skin-to-skin contact (handshakes or hugs), etc.

You can also catch the flu if you touch something with the virus on it, and then touch your mouth, nose, or eyes.

Q4. How can we prevent getting flu virals?

Ans: Vaccination is the most effective way of preventing getting flu. Injected inactivated influenza vaccines are most commonly used throughout the world.

Flu immunisation is recommended for everyone from 6 months of age who want to protect themselves from the flu and its complications.

Q5. How can I avoid giving influenza (flu) to other people?

Ans: Aside from getting your flu shot, follow these 3 simple steps to stop the spread of the flu—

Cough or sneeze into your elbow.Wash your hands thoroughly and regularly with soap.Rest and recover at home.

Q6. Should viral patients isolate?

Ans: Yes, viral patients should get isolated for at least 5-6 days after the onset of symptoms. This virus is contagious and can be spread from one sick person to another. So, in order to avoid spreading viral try to stay at home or isolate yourself.

Q7. What flu cases rise in monsoon seasons?

Ans: The sudden change in temperatures during the monsoon season can increase your risk of common cold, cough and other viral infections like the flu. 

Proper care and isolation can help lower the spike in flu cases during monsoon.

Q8. When should I get vaccinated?

Ans: The typical flu season can fall anywhere between October and May, and usually peaks sometime between January and March.

Because the timing of the flu season can be unpredictable, health care providers are encouraged to begin vaccinating as soon as the seasonal vaccine is available.

Ideally, vaccination should take place by the end of October. However, it is never too late to get vaccinated. As long as flu is circulating, vaccination is recommended.

Final thoughts

While preventive steps against the flu are highly recommended, still opting for periodic health checkups is a great way to stay on top of your overall well-being, and address any concerns that might pop up, before things get out of hand.

Book The Full Body Health Checkup Today!

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