In most cases, the flu sneaks up to you with several symptoms, leaving you crushed and miserable for several days before you recover. Knowing that, majority of people chooses to ignore some of the flu symptoms and turns to chicken soup and Dr. Google. Sometimes, that can help.
Still, is it worth of risk? According to the World Health Organization the annual flu epidemic results in about 250 000 to 500 000 deaths and 3 to 5 million cases of severe illness. The riskiest groups are very young, very old and chronically ill. Regardless of your age and health condition, there are some things to know about flu symptoms.
Know the Difference between Flu and Cold
Cold usually starts with sore throat which is later accompanied with runny nose, fatigue, sneezing and cough. The main difference between flu and cold is the fever which rarely happens with a cold. Some of the symptoms that might point to flu are weakness and extreme fatigue, aches in muscles and joints, dry cough, headache, red, watery eyes and a sore throat. Children with seasonal flu can also experience diarrhea and vomiting.
How to Treat It?
When it comes to the common symptoms of the flu, treating it at home is quite reasonable. If taken shortly after you get sick, prescription antiviral drugs can ease the symptoms of the flu. Staying at home and resting is mandatory. To improve your chances of getting well soon, drink plenty of fluids.
That means water, herbal teas, lemonades and other Vitamin C rich beverages. Make sure you avoid coffee, though. All the chicken soup concerned friends and family can bring is welcomed. Indulge in a steamy shower couple of time a day. Humid air can help easing the symptoms.
More Severe Symptoms
Some more severe symptoms will require much more than plain house remedies. Some of them can be threatening and require emergency care. The symptoms which require immediate medical care are pain or pressure in the chests or belly, trouble breathing or shortness of breath, confusion, sudden dizziness or severe vomiting. Some of these symptoms might imply to the presence of one of the more dangerous types of flu.
Possible Flu Complications
By checking with your doctor if you feel some of the more severe symptoms, you will have better chances of avoiding possible flu complications. The complications can range from sinus infection to serious conditions such as pneumonia. Children can especially experience some issues like ear infections. A patient with long-term medical condition (asthma, diabetes, heart conditions) can suffer worsening of the illness.
Who Is Most at Risk?
Certain populations are more vulnerable to the health complications caused by influenza. Children under the age of five, especially the ones younger than two, are particularly exposed to the risk, because their immune system is still developing. Seniors, older than 65, usually, due to other medical conditions, have weakened body defense systems. The changes through which are expecting mothers’ immune systems and organs going through make them more sensitive to severe illness.
Because the flu can worsen the preexisting medical conditions, persons suffering from chronic illnesses are also a part of the risk group. A study published in the Journal of Public Library of Science found that obesity is linked to hospitalization and possibly even death due to the H1N1 infection (“swine flu”).
With all the things said, it is sure that you should not leave your health to chance. Instead, be as cautious as you can, because what seems as just a passing symptom can have severe consequences. Visiting a doctor, even when suffering just common flu symptoms, is never a bad decision. When your health is in question let the saying Better safe than sorry be your guide.