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Influenza symptoms, causes and treatment

Influenza is an acute viral disease that can affect the upper and lower respiratory tract, is accompanied by severe intoxication and can lead to serious complications and deaths, mainly in elderly patients and children. Epidemics appear almost every year, usually in the fall, in the winter, and more than 15% of the population is affected.

Influenza is a group of acute respiratory viral infections – ARVI. The greatest infectious danger of a person with influenza is in the first 5-6 days from the onset of the disease. The transmission path is aerosol. The duration of the disease, as a rule, does not exceed a week.

More details about the causes, first signs and general symptoms in adults, as well as the treatment and complications, we will consider in this material.

What is an influenza?

Influenza is an acute respiratory viral infection caused by Group A, B or C viruses, which occurs with severe toxemia, fever, upper and lower respiratory tract infection.

Many people mistakenly take the flu for a common cold and do not take reasonable measures to stop the effect of the virus and prevent the infection of people who are in contact with a sick person.

In winter and autumn, the increase in the incidence rate of this virus is explained by the fact that large groups of people are in closed premises for a long period of time. First, an outbreak of infection occurs among preschool and adult children, and then the disease is more often registered in the elderly.

Prevention of the flu epidemic largely depends on the consciousness of the already ill person who needs to avoid public places with a large number of people for whom the patient, especially coughing and sneezing, poses a potential danger of infection.

Types of the influenza virus

How does influenza virus look

The flu is divided into:

  • Type A (subtypes A1, A2). The cause of most epidemics is influenza type A, its varieties are numerous, it is capable of infecting both humans and animals (avian, swine flu, etc.), and is also capable of rapid genetic changes.
  • Type B. Type B influenza viruses often do not cause epidemics and are much more easily tolerated than influenza type A.
  • Type C. Occurs in isolated cases and occurs in mild or in general asymptomatic form.

Once in the cage, the virus begins to multiply actively, provoking an acute viral infection of a respiratory type called influenza. The disease is accompanied by fever, intoxication and other symptoms.

The flu virus is extremely variable. Annually new subspecies (strains) of the virus appear, with which our immune system has not yet met, and, therefore, can not easily cope. That is why vaccines against influenza can not provide 100% protection – there is always the possibility of a new mutation of the virus.

Causes of influenza in children and adults

The flu causes a group of viruses belonging to the family Orthomyxoviridae. There are three large genuses – A, B and C, which are divided into H and N serotypes, depending on which proteins are found on the surface of the virus, hemagglutinin or neuraminidase. There are 25 such subtypes, but 5 of them are found in humans, and one virus can contain both types of proteins of different subtypes.

The main cause of the flu is viral infection of a person with the subsequent spread of the microorganism throughout the human body.

The source is already a sick person who releases the virus into the environment through coughing, sneezing, etc. Having an aerosol transfer mechanism (inhaling droplets of mucus, saliva), the flu spreads quite quickly – the patient presents a danger to others within a week, starting with the first hours of infection.

In each epidemic year, complications of influenza carry on average in a year from 2000 to 5000 people. They are mostly people over 60 years old and children. In 50% of cases the cause of death is complications from the cardiovascular system and in 25% of complications from the pulmonary system.

How is the flu transmitted?

Like all infectious diseases, the flu spreads from the source to the receptive organism. In the role of the source of influenza is a sick person who has obvious or erased clinical manifestations. The peak of contagiousness occurs in the first six days of the disease.

The mechanism of transmission of influenza is aerosol, the virus spreads by airborne droplets. Isolation occurs with saliva and sputum (when coughing, sneezing, talking), which in the form of a fine aerosol spreads in the air and is inhaled by other people.

In some cases it is possible to implement a contact household transmission path (mainly through dishes and toys).

Precisely it is not established, thanks to what protective mechanisms the reproduction of the virus stops and recovery comes. Usually, after 2-5 days, the virus ceases to be released into the environment, i.e. the sick person ceases to be dangerous.

The incubation period of influenza

The incubation period of the flu is the time interval that the virus needs to multiply in the human body. It starts from the moment of infection and continues until the first symptoms appear.

As a rule, the incubation period lasts from 3-5 hours to 3 days. Most often it lasts 1-2 days.

The smaller the initial amount of virus that enters the body, the longer will be the interval of the incubation period of influenza. Also this time depends on the state of human immune defense.

First signs of influenza in children

The first signs of influenza are as follows:

  • Body aches.
  • Headache.
  • Chills or fever.
  • Trembling in the body.
  • Pain in the eyes.
  • Sweating.
  • Unpleasant sensation in the mouth.
  • Lethargy, apathy or irritability.

The main symptom of the disease is a sharp rise in body temperature to 38-40 degrees Celsius.

Symptoms of influenza in adults

The duration of incubation is approximately 1-2 days (possibly from several hours to 5 days). Then follows the period of acute clinical manifestations of the disease. The severity of uncomplicated illness is determined by the duration and severity of intoxication.

Symptoms and causes of influenza

In the early days, a person who has become ill with the flu looks as if tearful, there is a marked reddening and puffiness of the face, shiny and reddish eyes with a “twinkle”. The mucous membrane of the sky, arches and walls of the pharynx are bright red.

Symptoms of influenza are:

  • increase in temperature (usually 38-40 ° C), the appearance of chills, fever;
  • myalgia;
  • arthralgia;
  • noise in ears;
  • headache, dizziness;
  • feeling tired, weak;
  • adynamia;
  • dry cough accompanied by pain in the chest.

Objective signs are the patient’s appearance:

  • hyperemia of the face and conjunctiva of the eyes,
  • sclerite,
  • dryness of the skin.

High temperature and other manifestations of intoxication are usually maintained up to 5 days. If the temperature does not drop after 5 days, bacterial complications should be assumed.

Catarrhal phenomena last a little longer – up to 7-10 days. After their disappearance, the patient is considered to have recovered, but for 2-3 weeks there may be consequences of the transferred disease:

  • weakness,
  • irritability,
  • headache,
  • possibly insomnia.

In the absence of complications, the disease lasts 7-10 days. During this time, his symptoms gradually go away, although general weakness can persist for up to two weeks.

Can a person die from influenza?

Yes, it can happen, if you get complications. To avoid that watch carefully for the symptoms. Here are the symptoms of influenza requiring an ambulance:

  • The temperature is 40 ºС and higher.
  • Preservation of heat for more than 5 days.
  • Severe headache, which does not go away when taking painkillers, especially when localizing in the nape of the neck.
  • Shortness of breath, frequent or abnormal breathing.
  • Violation of consciousness – delusions or hallucinations, forgetfulness.
  • Convulsions.
  • Appearance of hemorrhagic rash on the skin.

If the flu has an uncomplicated course, the fever can last 2-4 days, and the disease ends after 5-10 days. After the disease for 2-3 weeks postinfection asthenia is possible, which manifests itself as general weakness, sleep disturbance, increased fatigue, irritability, headache and other symptoms.

Is influenza serious?

There are 2 degrees of severity of the flu.

Light degree

Accompanied by a slight increase in temperature, not exceeding 38 ° C, moderate headache and catarrhal symptoms. Objective signs of intoxication syndrome in the case of mild influenza is a pulse rate of less than 90 beats per minute with constant blood pressure. Respiratory disorders are not characteristic for mild degree.

The average temperature is 38-39 ° C, there are pronounced symptoms, intoxication.

Severe degree

The temperature is above 40 ° C, there may be cramps, nonsense, vomiting. The danger is the development of complications, such as brain edema, infectious-toxic shock, hemorrhagic syndrome.

Complications of influenza

When the virus attacked the body, the resistance of the immune system decreases, and the risk of complications (the process that develops against the background of the underlying disease) increases. And you can quickly get sick with the flu, but for a long time to suffer from its effects.

Influenza can be complicated by a variety of pathologies both in the early period (usually caused by an attached bacterial infection) and later. A severe complicated course of influenza usually occurs in young children, elderly and weakened people, who suffer from chronic diseases of various organs.

Complications are:

  • otitis, sinusitis (frontal sinusitis, maxillary sinusitis);
  • bronchitis, pneumonia, pleurisy;
  • meningitis, encephalitis;
  • endocarditis, myocarditis.

Usually late complications of influenza are associated with the attachment of a bacterial infection, which requires the connection to the treatment of antibiotics.

People prone to complications

Some categories of the population are more prone to severe complicated flu flow than others. Quite often this infection leads to severe consequences for such groups of people:

  • older (over 55);
  • infants (from 4 months to 4 years);
  • people with chronic diseases of infectious nature (having chronic otitis media, bronchitis, sinusitis, etc.);
  • suffering from diseases of the heart and lungs;
  • people with disabilities of the immune system;
  • pregnant women.

The flu unfortunately affects all vital systems of the human body, which is why it is one of the most unpredictable diseases.

Diagnostics of influenza

When symptoms of influenza occur, it is necessary to call a pediatrician / therapist at home, and in case of a serious condition of the patient – an ambulance, which takes the patient to the infectious hospital for treatment. With the development of complications of the disease, pulmonologist, ENT doctor and other specialists are consulted.

Diagnosis of influenza is based on a typical clinical picture. In the case of a sharp rise in temperature, you need to seek medical help as soon as possible. Observation of a doctor for influenza is very important, because it will allow timely detection of the onset of possible bacterial complications.

  • medical examination;
  • anamnesis collection;
  • general blood analysis.

Treatment of influenza

In adults, flu treatment, in most cases, is done at home. Only a severe course of the disease or the presence of one of the following dangerous symptoms requires hospitalization:

  • temperature 40 ° C or more;
  • vomiting;
  • convulsions;
  • dyspnea;
  • arrhythmia;
  • lowering of blood pressure.

Prolonged treatment or failure to follow the doctor’s recommendations often leads to complications.

As a rule, in the treatment of influenza are appointed:

  • abundant drinking;
  • antipyretics;
  • means that support immunity;
  • remedies for catarrhal symptoms (vasoconstrictive for the relief of nasal breathing, antitussive);
  • antihistamines with the threat of an allergic reaction.

To combat fever, antipyretics are shown, which are very many today, but paracetamol or ibuprofen, as well as any medicines that are made on their basis, are preferable. Antipyretics are indicated if the body temperature exceeds 38 ° C.

When influenza it is important to consume more fluid – it will help to quickly remove toxins from the body and alleviate the condition of the patient.

The scheme of treatment of influenza in adults

The treatment regimen for influenza includes sequential procedures to remove current symptoms of the disease and neutralize viral cells.


Antiviral drugs against influenza are indicated for the destruction of viruses. So, you should take: Remantadine, Arbidol, Amiksin and Anaferon. Taking antiviral drugs with influenza will help not only to shorten the duration of the disease, but also to prevent the development of complications, therefore, in individuals with reduced immunity they should be used. Antiviral drugs are also used to treat complications.


Specific antihistamines are prescribed for influenza, these are medicines used to treat allergies, as they reduce all signs of inflammation: mucosal edema and nasal congestion. Preparations related to the first generation of this group have a side effect such as drowsiness. Preparations of the next generation do not have a similar effect.


To combat fever, use antipyretic drugs, which today are a great many, but it is preferable to use paracetamol and ibuprofen, as well as drugs made from these substances. Antipyretics are used when the temperature rises above 38.5 ° C.


In addition, expectorants should be taken for the flu.


To remove symptoms such as stuffy nose, vasoconstrictors are used.


Drops are digested three times a day for 1 drop in each nasal passage.


Periodic rinsings of the throat with herbal decoctions, soda-salt solutions, regular abundant warm drinks, rest and bed rest are also shown.

With the flu, as with other ARVI, there is no need to prescribe antibiotics, they are advisable only if there is a suspicion of the bacterial nature of the inflammatory process in the airways.

In order to prevent the development of complications, always strictly follow the prescribed treatment, lead bed rest during an acute period, do not stop taking medication prematurely and treatment procedures.

Recommendations to you if you have influenza

In order to cure the flu at home, it is worth observing the truest truths:

  • Bed rest is needed.
  • Admission of antiviral drugs and other drugs to maintain immunity.
  • Daily ventilation of the premises, it is desirable, if possible, to clean the room wet. The patient with the symptoms of the flu is wrapped and creates a warmer environment. Freezing room is not necessary, but regular airing should be done.
  • It is necessary to drink plenty of fluids. About 2-3 liters a day. Compotes, fruit drinks, tea with lemon, fruit will be the best assistant.
  • To prevent the development of complications in the cardiovascular and nervous systems, maximum rest is necessary, any intellectual load is contraindicated.
  • In the period of illness and for several weeks after it, you need to take care of your health as carefully as possible, showing the intake of vitamin-mineral complexes and consumption of vitamin-containing products.

Nutrition and Diet

Diet for influenza is a prerequisite for rapid recovery. However, do not be afraid at seeing this word. To starve yourself with flu will not have to. The list of foods that are better to eat about the time of illness is very extensive.

  • Herbal medicinal herbs;
  • Fresh fruit juice;
  • Warm broth, especially useful chicken broth;
  • Baked fish or not fatty meat;
  • Light vegetable soups;
  • Dairy products;
  • Nuts and seeds;
  • Beans;
  • Eggs;
  • Citrus.

As you understand, nutrition for influenza consists not only of those products that you can eat, but also those that are not recommended. The latter include:

  • fatty and heavy food;
  • sausages and smoked products;
  • confectionery;
  • canned food;
  • coffee and cocoa.

Sample menu:

  1. Early breakfast: semolina porridge on milk, green tea with lemon.
  2. The second breakfast: one soft-boiled egg, a broth of cinnamon rose.
  3. Lunch: vegetable soup-puree on meat broth, steamed meat balls, rice porridge, compote rubbed.
  4. Afternoon snack: apple baked with honey.
  5. Dinner: steamed fish, mashed potatoes, fruit juice diluted with water.

Before going to bed: sour milk or other sour-milk drinks.

What can you drink if you have influenza?

You need to drink, on average, not less than 2 liters of fluid per day, periodically, without waiting for thirst. As a drink, tea, decoction of rose hips, tea with lemon or raspberry, herbal teas (chamomile, linden, oregano), compote from dried fruits are good for drinking. It is desirable that the temperature of all drinks is about 37-39 ° C – so the liquid will be absorbed faster and help the body.

Folk remedies for influenza

Folk remedies in the treatment of influenza are used to restore the immunity of the patient, to supply his body with vitamins and medicinal extracts that promote recovery. However, the greatest effect will be achieved if you combine the reception of folk remedies with the reception of pharmaceuticals.

Pour into a saucepan a glass of milk, add 1/2 tsp. ginger, ground red pepper, turmeric. Bring to a boil and simmer for 1-2 minutes. Allow to cool slightly, add 1 / 2c. butter, 1 tsp. honey. Take a glass 3 times a day.

Prepare a tea with linden petals! Take the 1st st. a spoonful of dried linden flowers and small calyx fruits, pour ½ liter of boiling water and let it brew for one hour, then strain and consume half the glass 2 times a day.

The most active agent for influenza is black currant in all kinds, with hot water and sugar (up to 4 glasses per day).

Even in winter, you can prepare a decoction of currant sprigs). It is necessary to break small twigs and brew them a full handful of four glasses of water. Boil a minute, and then soar for 4 hours. Drink at night in bed in a very warm form 2 cups with sugar. Carry out such treatment twice.

Requires: 40 g of raspberry fruit, 40 g of leaves of mother-and-stepmother, 20 g of herb oregano, 2 cups of boiling water. Collect the grind and mix. Take 2 tbsp. l. of the mixture, pour boiling water in the thermos, insist 1 hour, strain. Drink infusion warm 100 ml 4 times a day for 30 minutes before meals.

With a cold, bury in the nose fresh aloe juice (a century) with 3-5 drops in each nostril. After instillation, massage the wings of the nose.

Vaccination for influenza

Vaccination against influenza is a method of preventing infection. It is shown to everyone, especially risk groups – the elderly, children, pregnant women, people of social professions.

Vaccination is conducted annually, before the epidemic season begins, from September to October, to form a stable immunity at the time of the epidemic. Constant vaccination increases the effectiveness of protection and the production of antibodies to influenza.

Vaccinations are particularly desirable for:

  • small children (up to 7 years);
  • people of advanced age (after 65);
  • pregnant women;
  • patients with chronic diseases, weakened immunity;
  • medical workers.

How to prevent influenza?

In order not to get sick with the flu, try to strengthen your body throughout the year. Consider some rules for preventing influenza and strengthening your body:

Prevention in the first place should be to ensure that you do not give the flu virus to get into your body. For this, as soon as you come home from the street, be sure to wash your hands with soap, and it is recommended to wash your hands almost to the elbows.

Very useful for the prevention of influenza in children and adults will be the washing of the nose. Washing can be carried out with a warm salt solution of water, or with a special spray.

Before eating, which was previously on the counter, be sure to rinse it well under the running water.

To maintain normal immunity, you should:

  • It is full, and most importantly, to eat right: in food should contain a sufficient amount of carbohydrates of fats, proteins and vitamins. In the cold season, when the diet significantly reduces the amount of fruit and vegetables consumed, additional vitamins are needed.
  • Do regular physical exercise outdoors.
  • Avoid all kinds of stress.
  • Quit smoking, because smoking significantly reduces immunity.

Summarizing, we remind that influenza is an infectious, infectious disease that can lead to various complications. The likelihood of infection increases in autumn and winter.

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