Along with the cooler weather season often comes the flu season. HEALTH speaks to Dr. Soju Sudarsanan General Practitioner (ICU and CCU) at GMC Hospital in Ajman about how we can take precaution against the flu and enjoy the cooler weather season and outdoor activities.
Influenza, tells Dr. Sudarsanan, or what is commonly called the ‘flu’ is a common viral infection that attacks your respiratory system which includes the nose, throat and lungs. “The illness is usually self-limiting and with some rest and self-care measures at home, the average healthy person can expect to get better within about two weeks,” he explains, however, some people are at greater risk of serious flurelated complications and should see a doctor. For those at high risk of flu-related complications, there’s a greater chance that the flu might lead to pneumonia, bronchitis, sinus infections and, rarely, hospitalization or death. Dr. Sudarsanan points out that it can also worsen chronic health problems such as asthma and congestive heart failure.
How It Spreads
According to Dr. Sudarsanan, flu viruses travel through the air in droplets when someone with the infection coughs, sneezes or talks. “You can inhale the droplets directly, or you can pick up the germs from an object such as a telephone or a computer keyboard, and then transfer them to your eyes, nose or mouth,” he says.
Initially, Dr. Sudarsanan explains that the flu may seem like a common cold with a runny nose, sneezing and sore throat. “But colds usually develop slowly, whereas the flu tends to come on suddenly,” he tells and and although a cold can be a nuisance, you usually feel much worse with the flu.
Other Symptoms Include:
• Fever above 100 F (38 C),though not everyone with the flu has a fever
• A dry cough or sore throat
• A runny or stuffy nose
• Muscle aches (especially back, arms and legs)
• Chills and sweats
• Fatigue and weakness
• Nausea, vomiting or diarrhea (more common in children)
Other Measures That May Help Ease Your Symptoms
Drink plenty of liquids – Choose water, juice and warm soups to prevent dehydration. Drink enough so that your urine is clear or pale yellow.
Rest – Get more sleeps to help your immune system fight infection.
Consider pain relievers – Use over-the-counter pain relievers, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol, others) or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others) to combat the body aches associated with influenza.Don’t give aspirin to children or teens because of the risk of Reye’s syndrome, a rare but potentially fatal disease.
Home remedies to alleviate mild to moderate flu symptoms:
- Steam inhalation (helpful for thinning out secretions).
- Honey has an anti-bacterial property and is an immune system booster.
- Lemon also has antimicrobial activity, also helps in relieving flu symptoms). Mix one tablespoon of honey in one cup of hot water and adding in a few drops of lemon makes a soothing drink. It will promote mucus flow and help reduce the itchiness in the throat.
- Ginger is a powerful anti-inflammatory and immune system booster; ginger tea or adding ginger slices to soups and other dishes helps.
- Garlic contains immune boosting compound allicin that helps relieve various flu symptoms. Chop/crush two to three fresh garlic cloves in one cup of hot water, after 10 minutes, strain it and drink it like a tea.
- Others – mustard, fenugreek decoction, peppermint tea, orange juice.
Prevention is better than the Cure
The single best way to prevent the flu indicates Dr. Sudarsanan is to get a flu vaccine each season. “The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now recommends an annual flu vaccination for all Americans over the age of six months,” he tells as each year’s seasonal flu vaccine contains protection from the three influenza viruses that research suggests are expected to be the most common during that year’s flu season. Antibodies usually develop two weeks after vaccination.
The flu vaccines are of two types:
The “Flu Shot”n inactivated vaccine that is given with a needle. It is approved for use in people 6 months of age and older, including healthy people,people with chronic medical conditions and pregnant women.
The Nasal Spray Flu Vaccinea vaccine made with live but weakened flu viruses. It is approved for use in healthy people 2 years to 49 years of age who are not pregnant.
Fluzone “High-Dose” is an injected flu vaccine formulated for people age 65 years and older.
Like other flu vaccines, Fluzone high-Dose is made up of the three flu strains most likely to cause the flu during the upcoming season. The high-dose vaccine, however, contains four times as much flu virus antigen as regular Fluzone and other standard flu vaccines.
The best way to avoid becoming infected with a cold or flu virus after getting a flu vaccine is to do the following:
1) Wash your hands – Thorough and frequent hand-washing is the best way to prevent many common infections. Scrub your hands vigorously for at least 15 seconds. Or use alcohol-based hand sanitizers if soap and water aren’t readily available.
2) Contain your coughs and sneezes – Cover your mouth and nose when you sneeze or cough. To avoid contaminating your hands, cough or sneeze into a tissue or into the inner crook of your elbow.
3) Avoid crowds – Flu spreads easily wherever people congregate (in child care centres, schools, office buildings, auditoriums and public transportation). By avoiding crowds during peak flu season, you reduce your chances of infection.
4) The Center for Disease Control – recommends that those with the Flu must stay at home for at least 24 hours after the fever has subsided.