Influenza - Its Signs and Symptoms
With the change of seasons and the onset of snow and cold weather, Influenza -- commonly known as "the flu" -- rears its ugly head. It's the flu that is generally responsible for those miserable coughs and running noses most of us experience.
How long is the flu contageous?
Influenza is virus based, spreading from person to person contact. This contact primarily comes in the form of coughing and sneezing from those infected by the flu. Typically, the incubation period for the disease is about 1 to 4 days. And on average, 2 days is the norm.
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Infectious states can range from a day prior to symptoms for adults to about five days after the onset of the flu. The infectious states are longer for children, with contageous states lasting for ten or more days and young children being infectious several days before onset of flu symptoms.
What are the signs and symptoms of influenza?
In uncomplicated influenza, one of the symptoms is a sudden onset of fever. Another flu symptom is headache. "Nonproductive cough" is another influenza symptom. Sore throat and runny noses are two more symptoms. In children the most commons symptoms were reported as inner ear infection (otitis media), vomiting and nausea.
The life of the disease is about 3 to 7 days for most people. Cough and generalized tiredness can be persistent as long as 2 weeks or greater in some affected by influenza.
Who is must vulnerable from high risks caused by influenza?
Persons who are 65 years or older are at higher risks for hospitalizations, complications and death resulting from the flu. Other high risk groups include young children and people with underlying health conditions. Older children and younger adults are less affected.
For children ages up to 4 years old, the hospitalization rates are:
Children with high risk conditions: about 500 for every 100,000
Children with no high risk medical conditions: about 100 for every 100,000 children
One of the problems with influenza is that it can exacerbate (make worse) many underlying medical such as cardiac and pulmonary (lung) diseases/conditions. This can manifest itself in the form of bacterial pneumonia or even as primary influenza pneumonia. It can also happen as part of co-infections with other bacterial or viral pathogens.
It has been noted that in young children diagnosed with influenza, the initial symptoms can mimic bacterial sepsis with accompanying high fever and in more severe cases, seizures secondary to the high fevers.
Influenza epidemics from 1979-1980 through 2000-2001 showed hospitalizations occuring from secondary effects of influenza ranging from a low of 54,000 to a high of 430,000 per each epidemic. H3N2 has caused the most hospitalizations.
Influenza treatment; What to consider if you have the flu
The flu, while not always fatal, should not be taken lightly. It is a serious virus that can and does cause multiple complications and sometimes, death. This is why it is so important to be able to recognize an influenza symptom. Many of the symptoms do mimic other diseases, so do not assume anything. You should always consult your MD with any concerns regarding the flu and for influenza treatment, as it could just save your life or that of your loved-ones!
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