Influenza is a contagious viral infectious disease. It is caused by a virus called influenza, or myxovirus influenza, of which there are several variations that are subject to change every year, hence the need to adapt the preventive vaccine annually. Outbreaks occur in episodes. However, most breakouts occur during the late fall and winter. The virus is particularly severe in vulnerable people (children, elderly, immuno-compromised), and is the cause of thousands of deaths each year. Transmission occurs by air (when coughing, sneezing etc.).
The disease has various characteristic symptoms. They do not necessarily occur all at the same time.
Symptoms of the flu include:
- sudden onset of fatigue, loss of appetite;
- muscle aches and joint pain;
- high fever;
- dry cough;
- stuffy nose, or runny nose;
A diagnosis is made after discussing clinical signs, a physical examination being only able to identify a few objective signs. A simple medical consultation is sufficient to establish the diagnosis.
The flu will generally go away in less than a week after following its natural course. Coughing and fatigue may persist longer. The treatment essentially consists of resting and treating the symptoms with:
- analgesics to relieve aches;
- antipyretics if the fever is not tolerated (paracetamol, analgesic and antipyretics, while avoiding aspirin in young children);
- cough syrup.
In the absence of weakness or complications, no further treatment is necessary. Antibiotics have no effect on a viral disease.
Simple hygiene measures can prevent the disease:
- Wash hands after coming in contact with doorknobs, after shaking hands with someone during periods of the epidemic;
- it is possible to wear a disposable mask (especially in areas with a lot of sick people);
- blow your nose or sneeze into disposable tissues.
These precautions do not protect you 100% against the contraction of the virus.
There is a vaccine against the flu. It is recommended to get vaccinated during the winter, especially for people over 65 years of age, children treated with long-term aspirin, vulnerable people, and health professionals. Widespread vaccination can protect the most fragile.