Influenza

Our Respiratory system is divided into upper and lower tract, the larynx being their anatomical border.

The flu (influenza) attacks the respiratory system. It is due to the Orthomyxoviridae family of viruses (RNA viruses). It is highly contagious in birds and mammals like humans.

Flu should always be distinguished from common cold, which has other causes and often different progression.

The flu virus has many strains. Its characteristics are:

  1. it can spread out through the air, from contaminated surfaces where it can remain infectious for a long time or from bird excreta.
  2. it spreads out rapidly sometimes causing epidemics or even pandemics, affecting thousands of people resulting in many deaths (e.g., the bird flu in Asia in 2004, the swine flu Η1Ν1in 2009)

The flu usually affects people with a compromised immune system (elderly, people with co-morbidities).

Symptoms include rapid rise of high fever up to 39oC accompanied by chills, muscle ache, joint pain, fatigue, cough, headache (sinusitis-pharyngitis), nasal congestion, conjunctivitis and even nausea and vomiting. The above symptoms are much more severe than those of the common cold whereas a superinfection due to a microbial agent is possible, as it is also in the common cold.

It is not clear whether symptoms of influenza as well as common cold are due to the invading virus or to biochemical changes in the immune system as it struggles to face the intruder.

The most dangerous strains (e.g. Η1Ν1) are diagnosed by performing the relevant fast tests. Our pharmaceutical quiver herein, unlike the common cold, contains antihistamines and vaccine.

In any case, the family doctor will decide upon the treatment that should be administered (hydration, no alcohol, antipyretics, antivirals, cough suppressants etc.)


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