What is Flu? Best Home Remedies For Flu

The seasonal flu showing signs of common cold, chest cold and head cold are the results of virus infections. Often showing symptoms of sore throat, running nose and cough, these do continue for a long time leaving you very weak and tired.  The antiviral drugs often ease the symptoms when taken immediately after you are infected. However, you may also go for some home remedies if it is not too serious.

Did you know?

Influenza, though taken to be quite common outbreaks in a yearly phenomenon victimizing more than five million people all over. It also causes around 300,000 deaths. The outbreak is normally in the winters in the northern and the southern hemispheres while it could be around anytime near the Equator.

The less frequent is the Pandemics which is also larger outbreak of influenza. This has already occurred thrice in the 20th century:

  • Spanish influenza in 1918.
  • Asian influenza in 1958
  • Hong Kong Influenza in 1968.

Risk factors

People may be prone to influenza viruses in the following cases:

  • Being in contact with the cattle and other aquatic birds for long hours.
  • Dirty and unhygienic environment
  • Shabby and unclean habits.

Types of influenza virus

The influenza viruses are the RNA virus in the virus classification. So we have

Influenza virus A

The wild aquatic birds are considered to be the natural hosts of the Influenza virus A. this virus when transmitted to other species cause major outbreaks. This virus is the strongest human pathogen and can be the cause for the severest disease. The virus is subdivided based on the different serotypes based on the response of the antibodies.

The serotypes known so far:

  • H1N1- caused Spanish flu and swine flu
  • H2N2- caused Asian flu
  • H3N2- caused Hong Kong flu
  • H5N1 – caused bird flu
  • H7N7- contains zoonotic potential
  • H1N2- caused endemic in humans, pigs and birds  

Influenza virus B

This virus is less common than its counterpart, the Influenza Virus A. However, this virus affects only the human beings. The seals and the ferrets are the only exclusions. Te mutation of this virus is also very slow when compared to virus A. there has been only one serotype for this virus so far. People also tend to acquire immunity to this virus at an early stage. But the mutation takes so long that even the immunity does not last. The good thing is that there is no risk of pandemics to occur from the virus

Influenza virus C

This virus is associated with just one species. This affects the humans as well as the pigs and the dogs. Many a times, it creates a serious condition for the patient. This genus has one species, influenza C virus. This virus infects humans, dogs and pigs, sometimes causing both severe illness and local epidemics. The flu from this virus is very common and causes mild diseases in the children. 

Causes

The influenza or the flu as it is commonly known as is the result of the viral infection cause either directly to the human or to the other beings and transmitted to the humans. So far three types of influenza viruses, Influenza Virus A, Influenza Virus B and Influenza virus C have been studied and researched to be the cause of the flu.

Maintaining hygienic and sanitized lifestyle helps in controlling the infection to some extent. Whereas in the absence of proper washing and clean environment, the spreading of the virus gets a boost

Symptoms

The influenza shows up on its victim early. It takes hardly a day or two after the infection that the victim starts feeling the chills. Fever is quite common in influenza or flu. The body temperature ranges between 38-39 0C . Many of the victims may further be affected by the body pains and aches that they remain confined to bed.

  • Extreme coldness with chilling and shivering feelings.
  • Running nose
  • Nasal and chest congestion
  • Throat pains
  • Frequent sneezes
  • Head ache and body ache particularly in joints and thighs
  • Watering eyes
  • Vomiting and diarrhea in children

Diagnosis

The doctor may recommend the ‘rapid influenza diagnostic tests’ to detect the influenza virus in your body. This test gives out the results in just 30 minutes. Unfortunately you cannot depend on the results very often. Even with a negative test results, you would still be shivering for flu. However, .ore specific tests can be carried out in the laboratories to indentify the virus. In such lab tests, the technician swipes the inside of the nose or the back of the throat with a swab which is then sent for tests. Blood samples are not taken for these tests.

Treatment

The flu patients are advised rest. They are also advised to drink plenty of fluid. Medicines like acetaminophen are administered to bring down the temperature and to relieve the muscles from the ache. Antibiotics do not work on the flu caused due to virus. However certain antibiotics are given for secondary infections.

There are two types of antiviral given to the flu patients:

Neuraminidase inhibitors

These antiviral are given to the patients. However they yield results only to those who are otherwise healthy, but to people who are already patient to other disease, these antiviral do not prove beneficial.

M2 inhibitors

The M2 protein inhibitors such as amantadine and rimantadine inhibit a viral ion channel. These inhibit replication of the influenza A, hence are more effective against Influenza A rather than Influenza B viruses. However there is also easy resistance to the easy availability of the drugs has led to increase in the flu.

When should you call a doctor

Flu does not create a panic every time. But in case the person is an elderly individual or in case the temperature persists for more than 4-5 days or in case the symptoms really worsen, a doctor should be called for. In such cases, the patient also runs short of breath and has chest pain.

Preventing flu

Vaccination on a regular basis is the most common prevention method recommended by the health experts and the government agencies.  Vaccination can be taken by two ways: the flu shot and the nasal spray. The vaccine should contain three viruses of influenza- A(H3N2), A(H1N2) and B virus.

The flu shot is recommended for any person above the age of 6 months. It is given in the arm with a needle. It is approved for the elderly and also for the people with chronic medical conditions. 

The nasal spray flu vaccine contains live, weakened flu viruses however these viruses do not cause illness.

These vaccines are better benefitted when administered in September with the onset of the flu atmosphere. This should continue till January. However, I some cases they are completed by October.

Home remedies

Honey: Honey is said to be a good intake at times of flu. It boosts the immune system and helps in reducing the symptoms speeding the healing at the same time. Honey can be taken in plain water or in warm water with lemon. Honey with onion juice also gives good results. It is good for sore throats.

Lemon: lemon has wide range of properties. Is it antifungal, anti bacterial and anti inflammatory in nature.  It weakens the flu virus when taken three to four times a day.

Mustard: Mustard also goes in as an antimicrobial and anti inflammatory agent. Put as a paste on the chest along with certain other ingredients, it helps in reducing the symptoms of flu. It also helps in the blood circulation when mustard powder in added to the hot bucket of water wherein your feet is soaked.

Ginger: Ginger is a common natural remedy for flu. It acts as a soothing agent for sore throats. Ginger taken as raw or as ginger tea or as powered ginger helps you in recovering faster from flu.

Garlic: Garlic has the immune-boosting compound, allicin that relieves one from the flu symptoms. Fresh garlic cloves prove to be antifungal, anti viral, anti bacterial as well as antiseptic.

Steam: steam is effective in thinning the mucus during the flu attack. Eucalyptus oil or any other oil as recommended by the physician when inhaled in hot water boosts the healing effects.

Other home remedies include the intake of fenugreek and peppermint. Chicken soup also helps you in easing the pain of flu. Besides taking plenty of fluid like the orange juice also helps.

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