When the swine flu episode exploded through the United States everyone seemed to panic. What was this foreign flu virus? What would happen to you if you caught the swine flu? What made the swine flu different from normal flu? Questions like these and others were common. It is quite common to have these questions about things we are not familiar with in life – especially when an issue arises that could affect our future health and safety. However, too often we overlook the day-to-day sicknesses and viruses that affect many of us.
The basic flu and the common cold are regular problems that many of us develop regularly. Yet, too often, we neglect to visit the doctor. And rarely do we seek out the necessary information to help us stay informed. While flu season may be almost over, it is truthfully a problem that seems to always be in season. Therefore, it is helpful to understand the basic details about this condition. It will allow you to live more comfortably and treat your body better when you do get sick.
Unfortunately, we all get sick from time to time. And, throughout our lives most of us at one point or another will suffer from a cold or flu. There are many different forms of the flu virus and these all vary slightly in the way that they affect your body. However, as a standard rule they do have similar symptoms. The way that flu affects you will also depend on your over all health and age. If you are generally unhealthy, then you will usually find that a cold or flu lasts longer for you than for other ‘healthier’ people.
Symptoms of flu are very similar to that of a common cold. The flu is different from the common cold because the symptoms are more severe and they often last longer. However, besides the duration and severity, the two conditions are very similar and often hard to distinguish between. General symptoms include:
- a blocked or runny nose
- persistent sneezing
- a sore throat
- general aches and pains
- hot and cold flushes
- aching muscles
- loss of appetite
In most cases, a person that presents with these symptoms will be diagnosed with a common cold. While they might have a common cold, they could have the flu. The diagnosis could be wrong or it is possible that the person did not seek medical attention. Often, we become accustomed to developing a cold that we become lazy and avoid the doctor. While it is ok to avoid the doctor if you have a minor problem, when you are really sick, a doctor could really help you to feel better.
Also, while a cold and the flu may be hard to distinguish, you can usually tell the difference in a matter of days. If you do not start feeling better, you probably have the flu. Most people bounce back from a cold in a couple of days. The same does not always occur with the flu. When you have the flu, you will most likely feel extremely week and it is possible that your recovery time will be a lot longer.
When you have flu though you can become easily dehydrated, and this is something that you should look out for. When we contract flu, you will have a difficult time getting out of bed. This means that you simply might not have the energy to get up to eat. Interestingly, one of the best treatments for the flu is drinking lots of fluids. Sadly, there isn’t a treatment for the flu. Your doctor cannot prescribe any medication to make it go away. When you have the flu, you really have to be patient and rest. That is the only way you will recover. It is really something that will just run its course and gets better with time (usually around 7 days). However there are plenty of methods you can use to help yourself.
- drinking plenty of fluids
- steam inhalation with menthol or chamomile
- vapor rubs to sooth breathing
- stocking up on throat sweets
- gargling with salt water if you have a sore throat
- eating fruit and vegetables (even if you have no appetite)
If you are experiencing headaches or general aches and pains then you can take painkillers. You should be careful not to overdose and check what you are taking. For example, lots of the hot flu relief drinks contain paracetamol so you don’t want to drink that and then take more in tablet form. If you have swollen glands ethen you can also take ibuprofen (within the recommended guidelines) to reduce swelling.
If you have bad chest pain or a cough you can also invest in some over the counter cough medicine, which can help relieve symptoms. Again check if they contain any paracetamol products. If you feel that it has developed into a chest infection then you should consult a doctor who may prescribe antibiotics.
Flu can develop into something more severe so you should seek medical advice if the symptoms persist for a long period of time. It can also be more severe if you are elderly or have under lying health issues. There are flu vaccinations available in nearly every city in America, so if you are at more risk then you should speak to your doctor about whether they recommend that you have the flu vaccination. Almost every doctor will probably recommend getting a flu shot. It is a great idea and it will definitely help you to avoid a future case of the flu. Regardless of whether you have the swine flu, normal flu, or a cold, taking care of your health is important. And while most cases of the virus are not life threatening, you should always make sure that you get plenty of rest and fluids if you are experiencing flu like symptoms.