Seasonal influenza, often called seasonal flu is an infectious, yet preventable disease. The flu mainly affects the respiratory system. The disease is caused by the virus Influenza and may spread from one person to another.
Seasonal flu occurs annually and is predictable due to the seasonal patterns it follows. In regions experiencing temperate climate, seasonal flu occurs chiefly in the winter season. Seasonal influenza in the temperate zones last from 6 – 10 weeks and affects an average of 2 – 10 percent of the population.
On the other hand, tropical regions witness more than one peak of infection, and the seasonal patterns are less prominent.
Influenza is caused by RNA viruses that belong to the family Orthomyxoviridae. They can be found across the globe and are classified into three types based on the difference in antigenic and biologic properties – A, B, and C.
Though both A and B type influenza virus can cause epidemics. Type A viruses cause the highest-burden while Type B viruses are less common and lead to milder influenza.
In some cases, the disease can worsen and become severe. This is usually due to the influenza virus infection or a secondary bacterial infection.
Older people are at greater risk of developing severe complications like pneumonia. Children are at an increased risk as their body hasn't yet developed immunity against the virus. Other than age-related risks, people with particular chronic medical conditions may also suffer from complications. If you suffer from one of the following chronic medical conditions you may be at an increased risk for the flu:
• Metabolic Diseases (diabetes)
• Chronic lung conditions (chronic bronchitis)
• Cardiovascular diseases (coronary artery disease)
• Hepatic disease
• Hematologic conditions
• Morbid obesity
• Generic conditions
• Chronic kidney diseases
• Chronic neurological conditions and physical handicap
• Conditions and treatments that suppress the immune function
The primary symptoms of seasonal influenza are muscle and joint pain, headache, dry cough, fever, sore throat, and runny nose. The flu causes a general unwell feeling and tiredness.
The majority of the people affected by seasonal flu recover from fever within a week. The cough may last for two weeks or more. The seasonal flu can get severe in certain cases and in rare cases may even lead to death.
Seasonal flu spreads easily with rapid transmission happening in schools and nursing homes. The disease spreads by means of infectious droplets dispersed into the air when a person coughs, sneezes, or talks. The viruses also spread through contact.
To prevent the disease from spreading, patients should cover their mouth and nose when they cough or sneeze. The most effective way to prevent passing or cathing the flu is to wash your hands regularly.
Patients who test positive for seasonal flu infections receive a course of antiviral drugs. Doctors advise patients with the flu to stay at home and rest. This minimizes the risk of infecting others and helps to relieve the symptoms.
The best way to prevent the disease is by vaccination. Vaccines have been preventing the seasonal flu for more than 60 years. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the following categories of public should receive an annual flu vaccine:
• Pregnant woman;
• Children between the age group 6 months to 5 years;
• Adults aged more than 65 years;
• Individuals suffering from chronic health conditions; and
• Health-care workers.
Patients suffering from seasonal flu should receive immediate care. If you or a loved one is suffering from the flu, reach out to BASS today to schedule an immediate appointment.