Contributed by: Priyaish Srivastava

Did you know?

  • Flu infections spike between October and May
  • Flu is contagious even before the symptoms begin to manifest
  • Flu symptoms usually begin abruptly
  • It can take up to two weeks for the vaccine to work
  • Anyone above the age of six months can get a flu shot and should be taken annually

Introduction

Winter is coming! This season brings with it its much-awaited fun elements, namely, the cold breeze, warm clothes, appetising foods & beverages, and a chance to vacay in style.

To enjoy the winter break, many choose to get away from the urban and into the lap of nature, especially the mountains to witness fresh snowfall.

Then some find comfort at home in a cosy quilt and with a warm cup of tea or coffee. But amidst the excitement of winter, a welcome break from the sizzling summers, one important aspect of winter is often ignored by almost everyone – the risk of influenza or more commonly known as the ‘flu’.

Influenza or flu is a common infectious, airborne, and highly contagious disease that is prevalent during seasonal changes, especially from autumn to winter. This viral infection can manifest acute to chronic symptoms ranging from mild fatigue to severe respiratory complications.

The infected person can recover in a few days or within two weeks, but in some cases, the condition can worsen and develop severe complications like pneumonia or any other respiratory illness, which can be life-threatening.

In this article, we list the common symptoms of influenza, risk factors, and some important preventive measures as well as home remedies to manage the condition effectively.

What are the symptoms of influenza?

Influenza is one of the most common viral infections that can hit suddenly, and its symptoms can range from mild to severe. The person infected by this viral disease can manifest some or all of the following symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Frequent chills
  • Sore throat
  • Normal fatigue or extreme tiredness
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Muscle ache, body ache or both
  • Headaches
  • Irritation
  • Diarrhoea (more common in children than adults)

It is very important to know that a person suffering from flu may or may not experience fever. Anyone can fall sick due to flu, irrespective of their age and health.

What are the risk factors for influenza?

Influenza is a serious illness and should be treated without negligence. It can give rise to severe complications and can even become life-threatening for the following risk factors:

  • Aged 65 years or above
  • Children aged two or below
  • Pregnant women
  • Chronic lung diseases, including asthma and COPD
  • Heart diseases
  • Chronic kidney diseases
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Liver diseases

Preventive measures for influenza

One of the best ways to protect yourself from influenza is by getting vaccinated every year. Other than that, taking the following preventive measures can protect you and others from getting infected:

  • Avoiding close contact

Maintain a safe distance from the infected person, and if you are sick, protect others by avoiding close contact.

  • Self-isolation

Stay home and avoid going to school, office or anywhere else until you are completely cured. This will help protect others from getting infected and falling sick while keeping you safe from any potential complications rising from an aggravated flu condition. 

  • Cover your mouth and nose

The virus mainly spreads via droplets transmission, ie. when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Covering your mouth and nose can help reduce the spread of the virus and prevent infecting others. 

  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth

The influenza virus is contagious and can infect you if you touch your eyes, nose, and mouth after touching any contaminated surface or if you’ve been in close proximity to a flu patient. 

  • Practice good hygiene

This includes washing your hands frequently, disinfecting the area near the infected person, being physically active, managing stress, drinking two to three litres of water, and eating nutritious foods.

Home remedies to manage influenza

Home remedies are one of the most effective techniques that help manage influenza. Some of these include:

  • Drinking plenty of fluids such as lukewarm water, coconut water, fresh hot soup, fresh juice, and herbal tea.
  • Getting adequate sleep (minimum 7 to 8 hours every night) helps in boosting the immune system.
  • Eat more green vegetables, fruits, and nuts.
  • Gargle with warm water by adding one tablespoon of salt at least four times a day.
  • Increase the intake of ayurvedic herbs and spices such as turmeric, ginger, clove, and garlic.
  • Inhale steam at least twice a day to detox the lungs.
  • Consume more boiled foods while avoiding oily ones.

Final thoughts

Influenza is a viral and highly contagious infection that can affect anyone. The changing weather, especially the onset of winter, increases the risk of getting infected by influenza, and thus, the condition should not be left untreated or ignored as it can lead to chronic health issues.

If you experience the above-mentioned symptoms, you can manage the condition by taking preventive measures and implementing home remedies.

Also, if there’s no reduction in the symptoms even after two weeks, consult your doctor immediately for a quick and effective treatment plan. 

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 to address any concerns that might pop up, before things get out of hand.

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