Influenza is one of the most common viruses that affect people all over the world. Influenza is another way to refer to the flu. This virus affects your lungs, throat, and nose, your respiratory system. Many people all over have the same question: How long does the flu last?
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The flu enters your body through the nose, mouth, and eyes. It comes through the mucous membranes found in each of these areas. This is one of the reasons that it is so important to wash your hands, especially during flu season.
When it first starts, the flu can seem as if it is just a common cold because it has symptoms similar to the common cold, such as a sore throat, sneezing, and runny nose. It may be a sign that you have the flu if these symptoms onset very rapidly, as the cold usually develops slowly compared to how fast the flu evolves. Flu tends to make someone feel much worse than just a common cold.
The best and most common way to protect yourself from the flu us to vaccinate yourself against it. The flu vaccine is required every year to stay properly immunized against this illness because the virus rapidly mutates, making new vaccines a necessity. You can get the flu shot by either scheduling a routine appointment with your primary care physician or by going to your local pharmacy or drugstore. In most cases, your insurance will cover the cost of getting immunized.
In most cases, Influenza runs its course and goes away on its own. There are scenarios; however, when the complications associated with this affliction can be deadly. Here are some of the people who are at high risk to develop complications while afflicted with the flu:
- Very obese people
- People that have a severe pre-existing illness
- People that have weakened immune systems
- Children under five years of age
- Seniors that are older than sixty-five years of age
- Women that are pregnant or that have recently given birth
- Anyone who is in a skilled nursing facility or any long term care facility
- Ear infections
- Heart complications
- Asthma complications
To get a proper diagnosis of the flu, as with any other illness, you must see a doctor or other licensed healthcare professional. When diagnosing the flu, a doctor will do a thorough examination of your body, including listening to your heart and lungs and taking your vital signs.
A doctor will also consider your symptoms when diagnosing you as the symptoms of the flu are the most common signs that point to the root of the problem. The symptoms of the flu include:
- Sore throat
- Nasal congestion
- Weakness and fatigue
- Persistent and dry cough
- Sore muscles
- Cold sweats and chills
After the doctor does an examination, if the signs and symptoms point to flu, they will make the diagnosis so they can move on to the next stage in the process.
The flu is most commonly treated using over the counter medications. The course of treatment that you take is based on the symptoms that you are experiencing. Here is a list of types of over the counter medications that you can use to treat the flu:
- Decongestants. These medications are used for stuffy nose and sinuses. Keep in mind that a side effect of decongestants is that they may make you hyper and prevent you from being able to sleep. So if you are going to sleep soon, you may want to avoid this type of medication.
- Antihistamines. These medications are used to block the histamine reactions of your body and are used to treat runny nose, post nasal drip, and watery and itchy eyes. Keep in mind, though, that most of these medications can make you very tired or drowsy.
- Cough medicines. There is a wide variety of cough medicines with many different types of medications to cater to the specific symptoms you are experiencing. The pharmacist can always help you choose the best medicine to suit your needs. When you have the flu, an occasional cough is alright because it helps clear the lungs. If you have a very persistent cough, however, you should find the medication that best suits your needs.
- Fever reducers. There is a wide variety of fever reducers that are sold over the counter such as; Tylenol, Motrin, Advil, and Aleve, to name a few. These medications also help with soreness of the body as well. You should be very careful not to overdose with these medications as they also come already mixed with other medicines that are sold to help relieve the symptoms of the flu.
- Medicated lozenges. Also known as cough drops, these can be bought over the counter to soothe a sore throat.
It is essential to always speak to a pharmacist when buying over the counter medications to ensure that the drug or combination of drugs you are taking are both safe and effective. There are also prescription medications that can be prescribed by a doctor that can shorten the duration and intensity of the flu, such as the medication called Tamiflu.
The best way to safely and effectively treat the flu is to identify it early on and treat it using the methods shown above.
The flu is a common affliction and has been around for a very long time. The methods when it comes to the flu are tried and true. It is simple to cope with the pain that is associated with the influenza virus. You don’t have to wonder how long does the flu last if you know how to relieve symptoms and help your body heal.