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Causes and symptoms
- Acupuncture and acupressure. Both are said to stimulate natural resistance, relieve nasal congestion and headaches, fight fever, and calm coughs, depending on the acupuncture and acupressure points used.
- Aromatherapy. Aromatherapists recommend gargling daily with one drop each of the essential oils of tea tree (Melaleuca spp.) and lemon mixed in a glass of warm water. If already suffering from the flu, two drops of tea tree oil in a hot bath may help ease the symptoms. Essential oils of eucalyptus (Eucalyptus globulus) or peppermint (Mentha piperita) added to a steam vaporizer may help clear chest and nasal congestion.
- Herbal remedies. Herbal remedies can be used stimulate the immune system (echinacea), as antivirals (Hydrastis canadensis) goldenseal and garlic (Allium sativum), or directed at whatever symptoms arise as a result of the flu. For example, an infusion of boneset (Eupatroium perfoliatum) may counteract aches and fever, and yarrow (Achillea millefolium) or elderflower tinctures may combat chills.
- Homeopathy. To prevent flu, a homeopathic remedy called Oscillococcinum may be taken at the first sign of flu symptoms and repeated for a day or two. Although oscillococcinum is a popular flu remedy in Europe, however, a research study published in 2003 found it to be ineffective. Other homeopathic remedies recommended vary according to the specific flu symptoms present. Gelsemium (Gelsemium sempervirens) is recommended to combat weakness accompanied by chills, a headache, and nasal congestion. Bryonia (Bryonia alba) may be used to treat muscle aches, headaches, and a dry cough. For restlessness, chills, hoarseness, and achy joints, poison ivy (Rhus toxicodendron) is recommended. Finally, for achiness and a dry cough or chills, Eupatorium perfoliatum is suggested.
- Hydrotherapy. A bath to induce a fever will speed recovery from the flu by creating an environment in the body where the flu virus cannot survive. The patient should take a bath as hot as he/she can tolerate and remain in the bath for 20-30 minutes. While in the bath, the patient drinks a cup of yarrow or elderflower tea to induce sweating. During the bath, a cold cloth is held on the forehead or at the nape of the neck to keep the temperature down in the brain. The patient is assisted when getting out of the bath (he/she may feel weak or dizzy) and then gets into bed and covers up with layers of blankets to induce more sweating.
- Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). Practitioners of TCM recommend mixtures of herbs to prevent flu as well as to relieve symptoms once a person has fallen ill. There are several different recipes for these remedies, but most contain ginger and Japanese honeysuckle in addition to other ingredients.
- Vitamins. For adults, 2-3 grams of vitamin C daily may help prevent the flu. Increasing the dose to 5-7 grams per day during the flu can felp fight the infection. (The dose should be reduced if diarrhea develops.)
- All people 65 years and older
- Residents of nursing homes and chronic-care facilities, regardless of age
- Adults and children who have chronic heart or lung problems, such as asthma
- Adults and children who have chronic metabolic diseases, such as diabetes and renal dysfunction, as well as severe anemia or inherited hemoglobin disorders
- Children and teenagers who are on long-term aspirin therapy
- Women who will be in their second or third trimester during flu season or women who are nursing
- Anyone who is immunocompromised, including HIV-infected persons, cancer patients, organ transplant recipients, and patients receiving steroids, chemotherapy, or radiation therapy
- Anyone in contact with the above groups, such as teachers, care givers, health-care personnel, and family members
- Travelers to foreign countries.
Three different genera of viruses have been discovered that cause influenza, called Influenzavirus A, B, and C (species names influenza A virus, influenza B virus, and influenza C virus). Influenza B and influenza C viruses are chiefly associated with sporadic epidemics among children and young adults. Most older adults carry antibodies against influenza because of repeated exposure to the viruses. Subtypes of influenza A virus are designated based on the antigens hemagglutinin and neuraminidase; because they can undergo antigenic shift they are responsible for widespread epidemics.
in·flu·en·za(in'flū-en'ză), The colloquial word flu is often loosely applied to any acute viral syndrome, including gastroenteritis ("intestinal flu"). Influenza, however, is a specific respiratory infection with a well-defined cause, and gastrointestinal symptoms seldom occur.
Influenza viruses are divided on the basis of antigenic structure into three types. Influenza A virus is principally responsible for epidemics; subtypes of influenza A virus affect birds, horses, and swine as well as human beings. Incidence of influenza B is lower and epidemics are less likely to occur with this virus, for which animal reservoirs are apparently of little importance. Influenza C infection is typically mild or subclinical. The annual mortality of influenza in the U.S. is believed to exceed 50,000, more than 90% of these deaths occurring in people 65 years of age or older. Influenza deaths have increased substantially in the past 20 years, in part because of the aging of the population. At least 30 pandemics of influenza have occurred since 1580. The influenza A pandemic of 1918-1920 ("Spanish flu") caused more than 20 million deaths worldwide, 500,000 of them in the U.S. Less devastating pandemics occurred in 1957 ("Asian flu") and 1968 ("Hong Kong flu"). Influenza is highly contagious. The virus is transmitted from person to person by direct contact and by airborne droplets of respiratory secretion expelled through coughing and sneezing. Incidence is highest in late fall, winter, and early spring. Active immunization with noninfective vaccines containing hemagglutinin (H) and neuraminidase (N) antigens of currently prevalent strains has reduced the extent and severity of epidemics and has provided protection to vulnerable populations such as the elderly. Vaccines are especially recommended for people older than 50 and those with certain chronic conditions, including diabetes mellitus, immune deficiency, impairment of renal function, and cardiac and pulmonary disease. Immunity arising from either natural infection or vaccination confers protection only against certain strains of virus. Antigenic drift results from the gradual accumulation of new epitopes on viral H and N molecules, whereas antigenic shifts are caused by mutations in the genes that encode these molecules. A new strain probably emerges as a human pathogen when that strain is transmitted to human beings from animal hosts. Influenza cannot be diagnosed with certainty or differentiated from other acute febrile syndromes on clinical evidence alone. Diagnosis can only be confirmed by detection of viral antigen in nasal secretions by direct immunofluorescence or by a rising titer of antibody to influenzal hemagglutinin. The antiviral drugs amantadine and rimantadine (effective only against influenza A) and the neuraminidase inhibitors oseltamivir and zanamivir can prevent clinical illness when taken prophylactically during an outbreak or epidemic and can reduce the severity and duration of symptoms (average reduction in duration with all agents, one day) when administered within 24-48 hours after the onset of illness. An international network for influenza surveillance was established by the World Health Organization in 1948. Now consisting of 110 centers in 83 countries, the network monitors influenza activity worldwide, facilitates rapid identification of viral strains, and provides information used in determining the composition of influenza vaccines.
influenza/in·flu·en·za/ (in″floo-en´zah) [Ital.] an acute viral infection of the respiratory tract, occurring in isolated cases, epidemics, and pandemics, caused by serologically distinct strains of viruses (influenzaviruses) designated A, B, and C; marked by inflammation of the nasal mucosa, pharynx, and conjunctiva, headache, myalgia; often fever, chills, and prostration; and occasionally involvement of the myocardium or central nervous system influen´zal
influenzaInfectious disease A viral infection which costs the health care system–US ± $12 billion/yr; it causes 10-40,000 excess deaths/yr, 80% in the elderly, most preventable by annual vaccination Complications Secondary bacterial infections–eg, otitis media, viral URIs, Reye syndrome, liver and CNS disease Management Oseltamivir, zanamivir, a selective neuraminidase inhibitor, ↓ symptoms in influenza A or B Prevention Annual vaccination. See Cold-adapted influenza vaccine, Zanamivir.
Synonym(s): flu, grip, grippe.
influenzaA respiratory infection caused by a virus of the Orthomyxoviridae family and spread mainly by the aerosol of droplets coughed and sneezed by sufferers. It is highly infectious to the susceptible, spreads rapidly, and tends to occur in epidemics in the winter time. There are three main types—A, B and C—distinguishable by antibody tests. Type B is the main cause. Influenza features fever, sore throat, running nose, dry cough, headache, backache, muscle pains, loss of appetite, insomnia and prostration. In most cases the acute stage lasts for only a few days and the symptoms then gradually resolve. Complications include HYPERPYREXIA, BRONCHITIS, PNEUMONIA and REYE'S SYNDROME. There is a significant mortality rate, especially in old people. Vaccines are available and are especially important for the elderly.
influenzaan acute respiratory disease affecting the upper respiratory tract, with symptoms of fever, chills and generalized aching, caused by a number of influenza viruses, particularly types A and B. Influenza outbreaks occur frequently and can have a worldwide distribution, often being associated with secondary bacterial complications. Over 20 million people died in the PANDEMIC outbreak of 1918–1919, principally young adults who may have been exposed to an unusually virulent form of virus. The virus is subject to considerable antigenic variation. See ANTIGENIC DRIFT, ANTIGENIC SHIFT.
Synonym(s): flu, grippe.
Patient discussion about influenza
Q. INFLUENZA(FLU) is it a fatal disease?
Q. How flu is passing? I have too small children, and in the class of the older one there’s an outbreak of flu with many sick children. The last time my little son had the flu was like a hell for him, and I really won’t to prevent it. What can I do?
However, simple measures, such as covering the nose and mouth while sneezing or coughing and washing hands thoroughly may minimize the transmission of the flu from child to child.
Q. Who Should Receive the Flu Vaccine? Should I go get vaccinated for the flu? I have been told it is advised only for certain people, so who should receive this vaccine?
at the bottom you will also find links in english. vaccinations in general are very disputable/dubious and it is probably time that we learn about it.