Flu is a common infection caused by influenza virus and can be spread by respiratory droplets, coughing and sneezing .There are different signs and symptoms pathognomonic for flu such as fever, cough, running nose, weakness, and fatigue. Most people recover from flu virus by resting and drinking a lot of fluids. There has been some research linking warm water, lemon, and honey to the treatment of flu. Flu can also be treated with various medications and prevented with flu shots.
Generally speaking, most people recover from flu in less than a week, if adequately treated. There are some specials cases when the flu could become complicated leading to severe diseases or death of the individual. Recently, there has been an increased incidence of death from influenza virus especially in people outside the risk group. It is getting more shocking because of the specific class of people affected such as pregnant women, geriatrics, and young children. These group of people is not in the high –risk groups of people predisposed to flu.
It was discovered in India, that more than 65 percent of death caused by flu occurs in people within the age of 5 and 24; this is high compared to the numbers of middle-aged people affected by the diseases. The primary etiology of death due to flu is its numerous complications, especially when left untreated. The U.S. center for disease and control recorded over 63 pediatric death in the year 2017-2018.
Why people die from Flu
Complications of flu are the primary causes of unexpected death in individuals affected by these diseases. It is not easy to detect because most people are not aware of the progression of their conditions. Most deaths attributed to flu complications occur as a result of late treatments or negligence. The most common complications of flu leading to death include:
- Pneumonia: This is one of the most common complications of pneumonia. It increases the incidence of death due to influenza in humans. It often occurs during the last phases of recovering from flu; People often experience pneumonia in the previous days of their recovery period. Pneumonia can be caused by the normal flora present in the body, or through opportunistic infections that infects the body while the immune system is low fighting the flu. There are different types of pneumonia based on etiology and segment affected such as community-acquired, hospital-acquired, lobal, and segmental pneumonia. You should pay attention and consult your doctor when you start noticing some pathognomic pneumonia signs such as chest pain, jaundice due to decreased tissue perfusion, green or bloody sputum, and Dyspnea, oral cyanosis, fever, green or bloody sputum are the signs to watch out for during the recovery phase of your flu. However, depending on the etiology and pneumonia type, it could be treated with antibiotics. Consult your doctor, if you notice anything unusual.
- Heart Attack: It is also known as acute myocardial infarction by medical and healthcare professionals There is a relationship between flu and heart attack especially when there are presence o other concomitant symptoms such as hypercholesterolemia, hypertension, and diabetes. Flu puts a lot of stress on the respiratory system due to its inflammatory effects which lead to increased formation of occluded blood clots in the respiratory system. This blood clot is the primary reason why flu could cause heart attack leading to death.
- Sepsis: This is a condition characterized by an increased rate of infection, this often occurs when the body tries to fight flu or pneumonia, at this moment leading to release of cytokines. This chemicals called cytokines are responsible for the signs and symptoms such as fever, chills, hypothermia, confusion, diarrhea, and
Signs and Symptoms of Flu
There are different signs and symptoms of flu, depending on the stage and duration of the diseases. The most common and generalized flu signs and symptoms include:
- A cough
- A sore throat
- Running nose
- A headache
- Muscular ache
Pregnant women, geriatrics, and pediatrics are easily predisposed to this infection due to their weak immune system due to age. Health care practitioners often prescribe hydration and rest for people infected with flu and with mild symptoms. If the symptoms are severe, it could be treated with antibiotics and other medications. The presence of flu complications might influence the mode of treatment.
How Long Am I Contagious?
You are contagious and can spread the infection form 1 day before you start exhibiting your symptoms to 7 days after your symptoms appear. It is advisable to stay indoors and avoid work during these periods, to prevent spreading the infection to co-workers and family members. However, if medical attention is needed, you can visit the nearest medical center to you. You can get the flu by respiratory droplets from infected people, or by touch your face or mouth after coming in contact with infected people. The flu symptoms last from October till may. It is not too late to take the flu shot; you can save yourself from future complications that could lead to death. Flu on its own is not deadly and often resolves with adequate fluid intake and rest. It only gets dangerous and fatal when there is the presence of various complications such as sepsis and pneumonia. There are different medications for treating flu such as Tamiflu. However, the easiest way to manage flu, especially with mild symptoms is to rest well and keep yourself hydrated. People lose a lot of fluid from running nose, lack of appetite, vomiting, and diarrhea when infected with influenza virus. These funds need to be replaced for the body to function efficiently. The body consists of 70 percent water, which means slight dehydration could alter the homeostasis and normal functioning of vital organs of the body.
The best way to treat a disease is to prevent it from happening in the first place, that is why vaccination is the key to eradicating flu complications.
Most people get infected with flu at one point or the other in their life without any complication. However, influenza can progress to more serious diseases which could cause death. If you notice any symptoms that persist after standard treatment. Consult your doctor.
Vaccination: Who Should Do It, Who Should Not and Who Should Take Precautions | Seasonal Influenza (Flu) | CDC. (2017). Cdc.gov. Retrieved 8 February 2018, from https://www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/whoshouldvax.htm
Misconceptions about Seasonal Flu and Flu Vaccines | Seasonal Influenza (Flu) | CDC. (2017). Cdc.gov. Retrieved 8 February 2018, from https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/qa/misconceptions.htm
Duda, K. (2017). Why You Shouldn’t Get a Flu Shot While You’re Sick. Very well. Retrieved 8 February 2018, from https://www.verywell.com/what-will-happen-if-i-get-a-flu-shot-while-im-sick-770545