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Everything You Need to Know About The Flu


Everything You Need to Know About The Flu

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. Whether flu season is just beginning, is in full swing, or has ended for the year, 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.

Understanding Flu Symptoms

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
  • headache
  • general aches and pains
  • tiredness
  • 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 so 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 weak and it is possible that your recovery time will be a lot longer.

When you have flu, you can become easily dehydrated, and this is something that you should look out for. When we contract the 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.

How to Treat The Flu

Interestingly, one of the best treatments for the flu is drinking lots of fluids. Sadly, there isn’t a cure 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.

These include:

  • drinking plenty of fluids
  • steam inhalation with menthol or chamomile
  • vapor rubs to soothe breathing
  • stocking up on cough drops
  • 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; make sure you 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 then you can also take ibuprofen (within the recommended guidelines) to reduce swelling. If you are on a blood thinner, remember to avoid ibuprofen and stick to acetaminophen.

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.

Severe Flu

The 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 underlying health issues. There are flu vaccinations available in nearly every city in America, so if you are at high 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.

How to Prevent The Flu

Aside from getting your flu shot, you want to make sure you're taking care of your health otherwise. The easiest thing to do is to make sure you're drinking plenty of water. You should aim to drink 8-10 glasses of water per day, throughout the day. Don't guzzle them all at once!

Drinking orange juice is also an easy thing you can do to support your health. Orange juice, as we al probably know, contains lots of vitamin C. Vitamin C is essential for the health of our immune system. A healthy and strong immune system can help ward off disease, and help us recover faster.

Make sure you eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, too. This isn't always fun, but it's necessary for your health. Fruits and veggies are loaded with nutrients, ensuring that your body is able to operate at its best. A weakened body is naturally more vulnerable to disease, so you owe it to yourself to eat right. A flu shot on its own won't do too much if your body is weak!

Finally, make sure you're getting enough rest. That can be hard, but try your best. Aim to get between seven and nine hours of rest per night. If you are having trouble sleeping, consider adjusting your sleeping environment. Invest in blackout curtains or a sleeping mask. Get a white noise machine if you can't sleep well in silence. Avoid screens 30-60 minutes before bedtime. If you're still struggling with sleep after trying all of these things, speak with a doctor.

The content of this article should not be taken as professional medical advice. Always consult with a doctor before making a decision that could impact your health.

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