Influenza in the middle of an epidemic

The flu has been slow in coming, but now she is here.

How many consultations are of flu?

7% of SOS Médecins’ consultations are for flu compared to 5% previously, and 1% of emergency consultations is mainly influenza viruses A (H1N1 and H3N2) that circulate.

Who is sick with Influenza?

The average age of people affected by the flu is 58, and more than half are aged 65 and over. Most of these are people with risk factors.

The Flu is attacking Europe strongly. Malta is in the middle of a flu epidemic, in England and Portugal the virus is present in a moderate way. As for the other countries, for the moment, the activity of the virus is weak to moderate.

What are the good actions to prevent the flu?

Vaccination is the best way to protect yourself against the flu. You can still be vaccinated until the end of January, but it takes 15 days for the vaccine to protect you, so it may be late.

You must also sneeze in your elbow and not in your hands, use a disposable tissue to blow your nose, wash your hands regularly with soap and water or with a hydro alcoholic solution and wear a disposable mask if you has an influenza-like illness.

I caught the flu, should I consult a doctor?

When does a flu need to go to the doctor? The seasonal epidemic (influenza) affects millions of people every winter but this infection is mostly benign for most healthy patients. Older or weaker people, however, should not hesitate in consultant a doctor.

The same scenario is repeated with each epidemic of seasonal influenza: peak influx among doctors, several thousand emergency department visits for influenza-like illness and hospitalizations following complications.

To limit the transmission of the influenza virus from person to person, vaccination remains the best protection, accompanied by simple hygiene.

It is therefore recommended to wash your hands frequently with soap and water or with a hydro-alcoholic solution, to limit contact with the sick, to ventilate your home every day to renew the air and to wear a mask when you have flu-like symptoms.

If this is the case, the question also arises of knowing what good gestures to adopt to recover quickly and if this disease requires a medical visit and within what time frame.

The health authorities are clear on the subject: a seasonal flu “puts flat” but it remains normally bearable. In healthy people, healing is usually done in a week.

Fatigue is often felt for the next three or four weeks and a dry cough can persist for two weeks,” says Health Insurance. As this disease is caused by a virus, antibiotics, which kill bacteria, are not recommended.

The treatment is therefore “symptomatic” and relies on hydration, drugs against fever, pain and cough available without prescription … and rest.

Thus, against one of the most common symptoms of influenza, fever, it is recommended to drink water regularly to avoid dehydration and to wear light clothing. Duvets and comforters are to be banned because they make sweat, which may increase body temperature.

The use of paracetamol or ibuprofen can reduce fever, as well as fight against muscle and joint pain. But be sure to use a dosage adapted to your age and your weight and to respect contraindications, underlines the Health Insurance, which recommends using only one type of drug and never to associate non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs with each other, nor to take at the same time as aspirin.

With are the people at higher risk?

Some situations nevertheless require a visit to a doctor, especially for pregnant women, people suffering from chronic diseases (diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, heart failure, chronic kidney disease, cystic fibrosis …), people over 65, and parents who suspect this disease in their baby.

In these frail individuals, complications such as a serious bacterial infection or a worsening of an already existing chronic disease can occur, and it is for this reason that the flu vaccine is recommended given to them.

It may also be that people who are considered healthy need to go to a doctor if the fever is poorly tolerated despite medication (over 40 ° C).

Finally, this precaution is also required in case of unusual symptoms for flu (shortness of breath at rest or difficulty breathing, productive cough with colored sputum), in the absence of improvement within 72 hours and in case of sudden aggravation.

The treating physician can then propose a specific treatment based on antivirals such as oseltamivir (Tamiflu) or zanamivir (Relenza). In this case, it is effective if it starts within two days after the onset of symptoms.

Are home remedies for colds and flu effective?

Drink tea with honey, wash your nose with salt water, and consume vitamin C supplements every morning … the advice of our grandmothers to cure or prevent diseases are not all equal. Find out which ones are worth keeping, and which ones should be forgotten.

According to the “let nature do” adepts, a neat cold lasts a week, and an untreated cold lasts seven days. But what about home remedies, transmitted by our grandmothers, to overcome the cough, stuffy nose, or scratchy throat, from the first symptoms? Are they worth more? Are they really effective? Let’s do a check in.

The hot drink

Some people rush to the kettle as soon as they feel a sore throat. According to a study cited by Consumer Reports, the hot drink would not have any real benefit to treat runny nose, cough, chills and sneezing.

The only benefits that the researchers observed would be related to a placebo effect. But hot drinks would be more effective at relieving sore throats by promoting salivation, which lubricates and soothes the throat. Any drink, soup or hot meal would do the trick, according to the scientists.

Honey

A 2014 a study compared honey with several over-the-counter cough, placebo, and no treatment medications. Conclusion: honey would be more effective than no treatment and placebo, or even some light treatments, to reduce the frequency and severity of cough.

These studies, however, only concern children, and researchers insist on the importance of not completely eliminating cough, which remains useful to eliminate excess mucus.

Salt water in the nose

Products intended to clean the nose in case of congestion would be effective to decrease secretions and thus reduce the use of decongestant medications. Be careful though if you use a an infected container: use distilled water and clean the pot after each use.

Dietary supplements

Many supplements, including Echinacea, ginseng, vitamin C and zinc, have been sold to prevent colds. However, research on their effectiveness is rather mixed.

About Pedro

O Pedro é um entusiasta pela natureza e os comportamentos humanos, onde se encaixa os relacionamentos amorosos, os tratamentos naturais e os animais de estimação, entre outros temas similares.

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