The periods between October, November, and mid-April, in seasonal countries is when influenza outbreaks occur. Learn about the disease and how you can take preventive measures.
What is Influenza?
Influenza is a respiratory infectious disease caused by a virus belonging to the Orthomyxoviridae family.
It is characterized by being a highly contagious disease, being able to be transmitted in any type of environment through droplets spread by infected people and hand contact with infected objects.
Types of Influenza
The viruses that are commonly spread during seasonal epidemics are influenza A and B. However, there are other variations of the virus, including influenza C and D.
Influenza A is divided into subtypes. There are 18 subtypes (from H1 to H18 and from N1 to N11, respectively). For example, a clearer case was the pandemic during 2009 by the H1N1 virus.
In the case of subtypes C and D, these are less common in humans and their power of infection is lower.
Differences Between Common Cold, Flu and Influenza
There is frequent confusion in the use of words and differences between: cold, flu and/or influenza.
One method of detecting their differences is the clinical presentation of the cold that mainly causes nasal congestion, throat irritation and discharge. In contrast, influenza is capable of compromising the health of vulnerable groups (children or older adults) due to its multiple symptoms.
The use of the word “flu” to refer to influenza is valid. Whereas, "common cold" is qualified within the category of rhinoviruses. That is, an infection caused by a different virus.
Common Symptoms of Influenza
Some of the most common symptoms are:
Headache and sore throat
These symptoms can last for about a week.
If you suspect you have influenza, we recommend getting a screening test for influenza A or B. This will help in early detection and diagnosis in order to execute an appropriate treatment plan.
My Diagnosis is Positive. What Are the Next Steps?
If the symptoms worsen, or the fever persists, you should see a doctor. Additional studies for influenza are usually not necessary. However, we give you some tips to cope with the process:
Drink enough liquid
Do inhalations or nasal sprays to decongest
Keep absolute rest