I was eyeing this past weekend and was excited to see that warm temperatures were in the forecast. I was feeling a little sick of the cold weather and being forced inside. I had made some plans for a small hike and a good barbeque dinner. As the weekend came closer, my body suddenly had a different idea and my plans were shot.
The temperature was still warm, but so was my temperature. It started with some fever and chills. Expanded to some fatigue and muscle aches. Soon I was involved in a full on flu sickness. I was a little confused, at least initially; I had convinced myself that it was too late for the flu season. I was wrong again.
I learned that the flu virus is actually present all year around. Granted the late fall and winter months are when the flu season is at it worst. But some years, it could be early spring as well.
The flu is really the influenza virus. It is a respiratory illness that can have a varied severity of symptoms. It can affect anyone but those at high risk are children, elderly, and those who often come into contact with these types of patients.
The Symptoms of the Flu:
2.) Nasal Congestion
3.) Sore Throat
4.) Body aches
5.) Muscle aches
- Remember that symptoms are different for every person. The flu can be very mild in some cases and very serious in other cases.
How is the Flu passed?
The influenza virus causes a respiratory illness. Therefore the flu is spread through respiratory fluids. This includes sneezing and coughing on others. Also, wiping your nose and touching someone without washing your hands is a huge risk factor.
How long are you contagious?
This is a difficult question to answer. Often you can pass the flu onto others even before you know that you are sick. After you’ve become infected, it takes awhile for the symptoms to begin. Therefore, it could be 2 or 3 days before you even realize you are sick. You could be spreading it to others.
After symptoms present, you could be sick for a week or two. During this time, it is about average that you can pass the virus for the first week to ten days.
Another big problem is that you can start with a viral infection and over time, a secondary bacterial infection could be seen. Your symptoms, in this case, could be present or worsening for longer than 2 weeks.
Prevention of the Flu
The first line of protection is hand washing. This will really make a large difference but it can’t cover everything. You could wash your hands hourly and still get the influenza virus.
The second line is the flu shot. Every year a different viral shot is available. This is an inactivated vaccine that gives a partial or full protection against an influenza virus. It can be given as a shot and in some cases, a nasal spray vaccine is available.
If you’ve received the vaccination, it isn’t immediate. It takes about two weeks to become really effective.
The other issue – is that other viruses, other than the influenza, may have similar symptoms to the flu symptoms. In these cases, the flu vaccine wouldn’t protect against these infections.
Since the Flu is a virus, most of the treatment is related to the symptoms. Rest, fluids, and Acetaminophen for fever are essential. Antibiotics will only help in bacterial infections that are similar to the flu. But actual flu infections won’t see any benefit from antibiotics.
Tamiflu is a treatment also called oseltamivir is an antiviral medication that may slow the spread of the virus in the body. Another brand name medication that does a similar thing is Relenza.
Worldwide Flu Virus
In N. America, the typical time of the year that the flu virus affects, is typically November to April. In places like central America, Africa, and other areas of the word, the influenza virus affects year round. In Chili, South Africa and Australia, the time of the year affected is from April to November.
Remember though, it is never too late to get his with the massive flu virus. It is very important to get the vaccination to prevent a serious flu infection. I wish I had.