Influenza is a respiratory infection caused by a virus (germ). Influenza occurs most often during the winter and easily spreads from person to person. Most people who get influenza feel sick for a week or two and recover. In some people, influenza leads to more serious lung infections.
Symptoms of influenza
Difference between a common cold and influenza
- Moderate to high fever
- Dry cough
- Sore throat
- Runny nose
- Loss of appetite
- Muscle aches
Many cold and influenza symptoms are similar. Both common cold and influenza are caused by viruses. There are some differences with influenza. Symptoms of influenza often hit suddenly and cause you to become weaker and weaker. The dry cough and fatigue of influenza can last two to three weeks.
Signs that influenza is getting worse include:
If you think that your illness is getting worse, contact your pulmonologist promptly.
Treatment of influenza
Most people with influenza who are otherwise healthy do not need special drugs or treatments. If you have influenza, you should:
Medicines for severe influenza cases
- Drink lots of fluids
- Eat a light diet
- Stay at home
- Take appropriate medicines
If you are seriously ill, your health care provider might order an antiviral drug for you. Infections from bacteria are more likely when you have influenza. Health care providers treat these bacterial infections with antibiotic drugs. Common secondary infections include:
Prevention of influenza
If you receive an influenza vaccine, you are likely to be protected from influenza. The vaccine is given as a shot or a nasal spray. You must get the vaccine every year to be protected. Sometimes the vaccine does not prevent influenza but makes its symptoms less severe. The vaccine is safe, even for pregnant women
. You cannot get influenza from the vaccine.
Who should receive the vaccination?
It’s a good idea for everyone to get an influenza vaccine every year. You will protect yourself and other people. People who have a high risk of becoming seriously ill from influenza are urged to get a vaccine once a year. You should also ask your pulmonologist about a pneumonia vaccination. You have a high risk if you have:
You also have a higher risk of becoming seriously ill if you:
- Are over 65 years old
- Are under 18 years old and must take aspirin regularly
- Live or work in a nursing home
- Have AIDS
Other individuals who are not at high risk might also receive a flu vaccination. If you work in a healthcare facility, you may transmit influenza to others in a healthcare facility, but you are not at a higher risk of becoming seriously ill.