As the seasons change, the weather gets cooler and colds and the flu becomes more common.
What is the Flu?
Influenza virus, aka “the flu”, is more serious than the common cold. It is an upper respiratory tract infection that affects the lungs, nose, and throat. Individuals at high risk are young children, elderly adults, pregnant women, and anyone with a weakened immune system.
The flu spreads through three routes, airborne (i.e. coughs and sneezes), skin to skin contact (i.e. handshakes and hugs), and saliva (i.e. kissing or sharing of drinks).
- severe muscle or body aches
- sore throat
Serious complications of flu can include bacterial pneumonia, ear infections, sinus infections, and dehydration. Unlike the common cold, the flu kills thousands of people every year.
- Self care – (rest and fluids)
- decongestant (relieves nasal congestion and runny nose)
- cough medicine (blocks the cough reflex)
- non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (Tylenol or Motrin) – relieves pain and reduces fever
- antiviral medication (Tamiflu) – reduces viruses’ ability to replicate and duration of the virus
Tamiflu is available by prescription only. It is used to treat the flu in children and adults as long as it is taken within 24 hours of the onset of symptoms. However, what is not commonly known to the public are the side effects associated with the use of the medication. The major side effects include abnormal neurological or psychiatric behaviors (38%), delusions/perceptual disturbances (21.7%), hallucinations, convulsions, and even encephalitis (Sang Won et al., 2015). These side effects lead to accidents, injuries, and suicides (Sang et al., 2015).
Yearly vaccine help prevent the flu and limit the complications. Flu vaccines cause antibodies to develop in the body. These antibodies provide protection against infection with the viruses that are in the vaccine. Types of vaccines include nasal sprays (live virus), trivalent (grown in eggs), and quadrivalent (grown in cell culture).
Good hygiene, such as washing your hands and covering your cough will help protect you and others against influenza infections. Use soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer (i.e.Purell) to clean hands. Viruses commonly live on phones, door knobs, money, so when we use our hands and then rub our eyes or nose, we expose ourselves to possible infections.
Don’t let the flu catch you, know the signs, symptoms, and treatments of the flu. The best ways to prevent the flu is through a yearly flu vaccine and good hand hygiene.
Knowing this could just save your life.
Prevent Flu! Get a Flu Vaccine and Take Preventative Actions. (April, 2017). U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Centers for Disease Control. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QvyaE_eXDJU&t=1s
Sang Won, J., & Changsu, H. (2015). Psychiatric Symptoms in a Patient with Influenza A (H1N1) Treated with Oseltamivir (Tamiflu): A Case Report. Clinical Psychopharmacology & Neuroscience, 13(2), 209-211.
Tamiflu. (March, 2015). ABCTVcatalyst. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wiqb9U3hup0