Influenza (Latin influentia, literally - influence) - an acute infectious disease of the respiratory tract caused by the influenza virus. Like any virus, it "can" change - mutate, and it does so with enviable constancy and success. Each new species — a strain — arising on the basis of the types described, is something slightly new and it is this variability that allows the flu virus to be elusive, uncontrollable and very dangerous.
Influenza is a group of acute respiratory viral infections - ARVI. The greatest infectious danger of a person suffering from influenza is in the first 5-6 days from the onset of the disease.
Transmission path - aerosol. The duration of the disease, as a rule, does not exceed a week. However, during this illness such complications as otitis, sinusitis, pneumonia, cystitis, myositis, pericarditis, hemorrhagic syndrome can be observed. Especially dangerous is the disease for pregnant women, because it can lead to the threat of termination of pregnancy.
How can you get infected?
The source of the spread of influenza infection is a sick person. Particular danger to the people around him is his discharge in the form of saliva, sputum, containing the pathogenic virus, so patients with a diagnosis of influenza are advised to wear a gauze bandage on the face during the illness. Once in the human body, the virus begins active reproduction. It usually settles on the mucous membrane of the upper respiratory tract.
Ailment is not capable of affecting internal organs; it can only lead to general intoxication of the body, the main symptoms of which are nausea, abdominal pain, and vomiting. A person diagnosed with influenza is dangerous to others only in the first five days of illness. In the future, the virus ceases to stand out, even if the patient still has symptoms of the disease.
People with a weakened immune system are most susceptible to this disease:
- young children under the age of 2 years, because their immune system is still inconclusively formed;
- persons who suffer from all kinds of immunodeficiency diseases (congenital immunodeficiencies, HIV);
- elderly people;
- Persons who suffer from chronic diseases of the cardiovascular system, especially with acquired and congenital heart defects;
- persons who suffer from various chronic lung diseases, including bronchial asthma;
- pregnant women;
- sick people suffering from various chronic blood and kidney diseases;
- elderly people, as a rule, are over 65 years old, who have all sorts of chronic diseases of various degrees.
The entrance gates for the influenza virus are cells of the ciliated epithelium of the upper respiratory tract - the nose, trachea, bronchi. In these cells, the virus multiplies and leads to their destruction and death. This explains the irritation of the upper respiratory tract coughing, sneezing, nasal congestion.
Penetrating into the blood and causing viremia, the virus has a direct, toxic effect, manifested in the form of fever, chills, myalgias, headaches. In addition, the virus increases vascular permeability, causes the development of stasis and plasma hemorrhages. It can also cause suppression of the body's defense systems, which causes the accession of a secondary infection and complications.
Forms of the disease
There are such forms of the disease:
- Light - body temperature rises to no more than 38 ° C, symptoms of intoxication are mild or absent.
- Medium - body temperature within 38.5-39.5 ° C, the classic symptoms of the disease are noted: intoxication (headache, photophobia, muscle and joint pain, excessive sweating), typical changes in the posterior pharyngeal wall, conjunctival redness, nasal congestion, trachea and larynx (dry cough, chest pain, hoarse voice).
- Severe form - expressed intoxication, body temperature 39-40 ° C, nasal bleeding, signs of encephalopathy (hallucinations, convulsions), vomiting.
- Hypertoxic - the body temperature is above 40 ° C, the symptoms of intoxication are most pronounced, which results in toxicosis of the nervous system, swelling of the brain and infectious toxic shock of varying severity. Respiratory failure may develop.
The fulminant form of influenza is dangerous for death, especially for debilitated patients, as well as patients with their associated pathologies. In this form, swelling of the brain and lungs, respiratory failure, bleeding and other serious complications develop.
Signs of flu
In 2019, the following symptoms are characteristic of influenza:
- temperature 40ºС and higher;
- maintaining a high temperature for more than five days;
- severe headache that does not go away while taking painkillers, especially when localized in the neck;
- shortness of breath, frequent or abnormal breathing;
- disturbances of consciousness - delusions or hallucinations, oblivion;
- the appearance of a hemorrhagic skin rash.
With all the listed signs of flu in adults, as well as the appearance of other alarming symptoms that are not included in the picture of the uncomplicated course of the disease, you should immediately seek medical help.
Symptoms of influenza in adults
The incubation period for influenza lasts from several hours to several days. During this time, the virus manages to multiply and in large quantities into the bloodstream, causing viremia.
With flu, symptoms in adults make themselves felt with such signs: a sharp rise in temperature to high numbers (from 39 to 40 degrees Celsius), aching joints, headaches and muscle pain. Hyperemia of the skin and sclera of the eyes, exacerbation of herpes infection can be observed.
Then there are other symptoms of flu in adults: nasal congestion with scant discharge, tickling and unpleasant symptoms in the nasopharynx. In some people, under the influence of high temperature and intoxication, the work of the digestive tract is disturbed, dyspeptic disorders and diarrhea appear. In infants, flu symptoms resemble bronchitis, pneumonia, and other respiratory infections. In this case, a young child may have diarrhea, vomiting, and abdominal pain.
With a favorable course, the disease lasts from five to seven days, but the body fully recovers its working condition only after two or three weeks.
This symptom is characterized by high values. The typical temperature at the onset of the disease, as a rule, is above +39 ºС, and can often exceed a mark of +40 ºС. Only in mild forms of influenza, the temperature can fluctuate at a mark of +38 ºС. Such a strong increase in temperature is a consequence of intoxication of the body, as well as the reaction of the immune system to it.
Another feature of the temperature increase is that it usually occurs very sharply, in just a few hours. The length of the period during which the patient's temperature is elevated depends on the severity of the disease and on whether the patient is taking antipyretic drugs. It usually lasts 2-4 days. Then the temperature drops to subfebrile values. In the case of severe forms of influenza, the heat is poorly confused with antipyretics. Or gets off for a very short period of time.
Pain in the head and body
Headaches, chest pains, and also not clear pains in other parts of the body, especially in the muscles of the legs, are the result of intoxication of the body. Often these are the first flu symptoms that appear before the temperature rises. Muscle soreness may be in the nature of aches. Headache is usually concentrated in the frontal area, although it may spread throughout the head. Sometimes there may be pain in the eyes, photophobia. All this is quite common symptoms of flu.
Influenza viruses mainly affect the bronchial mucosa. Therefore, with the flu, cough is also a typical symptom appearing in 9 out of 10 patients. However, the cough is not always manifested in the early hours of the disease. In addition, coughing can often be relatively weak compared to the cough observed in other respiratory diseases. Cough is usually continuous, it can harass a person and prevent him from falling asleep.
At the onset of the disease, the cough is usually dry and unproductive. As the discharge of sputum cough is replaced by a wet.
Pharyngitis, laryngitis, antritis
Symptoms of inflammation of the mucous membranes of the upper respiratory tract - a runny nose, sore throat, sneezing can often not be observed at all. However, these symptoms also occur (about half the time). Often they are explained not by exposure to the influenza viruses themselves, but by a secondary bacterial infection. Most often, children suffer from such phenomena.
Sometimes there are disorders of the gastrointestinal tract - nausea, dyspepsia, loss of appetite. Sometimes vomiting and diarrhea are possible. Although, in general, flu-like symptoms are not typical.
Also, on the background of high temperature, the patient may experience increased sweating, redness and flushing of the skin, heart palpitations, low blood pressure, and heart rhythm disturbances. When listening to the heart, muffled tones and systolic murmurs are noticeable.
Most of the fatal cases of influenza are not associated with the disease itself, but with its characteristic complications. Complications of influenza affect primarily the cardiovascular and nervous systems, lungs, kidneys and liver.
The most dangerous complications of the flu are:
- viral pneumonia, difficult to treat, even in the hospital;
- inflammation of the heart muscle - myocarditis and tissue surrounding the heart - pericarditis;
- inflammation of the meninges (meningitis) and the brain (encephalitis);
- severe renal and hepatic impairment;
- early termination of pregnancy and infection of the fetus in pregnant women.
General diagnostic measures include an external examination by a doctor and a statement of characteristic symptoms - localized pain syndrome, high fever, slight swelling of the face, dry cough, and catarrhal manifestations. As a rule, it is almost impossible to diagnose the flu on the basis of these data and the therapist establishes the primary assumption of "ARVI" - an acute respiratory viral infection.
More accurately determine the disease can be with the help of tests. Complete blood count for lymphocytes, the study of swabs of the nasopharynx with their seeding on chicken embryos, immunofluorescence technique (using labeled antibodies) - these are the main ones. As an adjunct, serological retrospective analyzes are used with an assessment of the increase in antibody titers in the test material when using paired sera.
Influenza is of viral origin, so the basis of its treatment in adults is antiviral drugs: Cycloferon, Amiksin, which is also recommended as a prophylactic during the so-called cold season.
In addition to the pills for influenza, which have antiviral effects, the patient is shown taking medications aimed at enhancing the protective functions of the body (Interferon).
In case of influenza, general recommendations include non-pharmacological treatment, taking drugs to relieve symptoms and antiviral drugs.
Non-drug treatments include:
- Compliance with bed rest (5 days). During the acute period, refuse to read, watch TV, work at the computer, so as not to overload the body weakened by the disease.
- Plentiful warm drink. It is better to have tea with lemon, dogrose infusion, black currant, juice with cranberries. Such drinks rich in vitamin C will help to eliminate toxins from the body, formed as a result of the vital activity of viruses.
- Antiviral drugs such as Zanamivir and Oseltamivir (Tamiflu) are recommended to suppress the spread of the virus in the body, reduce the severity of symptoms, reduce the duration of the disease and reduce the frequency of secondary complications.
- Antibiotics for flu should not be used. They are completely powerless against viruses, they are used only when bacterial complications occur.
The following medications are used to relieve symptoms of flu in adults:
- NSAIDs (reduce temperature, reduce pain). Recall that lowering the temperature below 38 degrees is not recommended. The exception is small children and people prone to cramps. In this case, it is absolutely impossible to beat down the high temperature in a child with aspirin. With a viral infection, it can cause a complication - Reye's syndrome, which manifests itself as an epileptic seizure and coma.
- Vasoconstrictor drops - Nafozalin, Xilen, Galazolin, Sanorin, Otrivin facilitate breathing and relieve nasal congestion, but they can be used for no longer than 3 days;
- Treatment of sore throat. The most effective remedy (it is also the most disliked by many) is gargling with disinfectant solutions. You can use infusions of sage, chamomile, as well as ready-made solutions, such as furatsilin. Rinsing should be frequent - every 2 hours. In addition, disinfecting sprays can be used: hexoral, bioparox, etc.
- Cough preparations. The purpose of cough treatment is to reduce the viscosity of sputum, to make it fluid and easy to cough. Drinking regimen is important for this - a warm drink dilutes the sputum. If you have problems with coughing up, you can take expectorant drugs, such as ACC, mukaltin, bronholitin, etc. Do not take drugs that suppress the cough reflex on your own (without consulting a doctor) - this can be dangerous.
How to treat the flu, additional recommendations that are easy to use at home:
- Eating more fresh plant foods, especially fruits, will give the immune system extra strength to fight the flu virus.
- Sleep at least 7-9 hours. During illness, the body needs additional strength to fight the infection, which is why it is not recommended to over-exert or overeat.
- Remember that antibiotics have no effect on the influenza virus. If used improperly, on the contrary, they can lead to bacterial resistance to them.
- Keep the flu in yourself. Try not to contact personally with family members, colleagues and friends. Use a gauze bandage and telephone.
- If flu symptoms worsen, do not go away, or you have chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, asthma, HIV / AIDS - consult a doctor. You may need additional medical care.
In extremely severe hypertoxic forms of influenza in adults (temperature above 40 ° C, shortness of breath, cyanosis, severe tachycardia, a decrease in blood pressure), patients are treated in intensive care units. Anti-influenza immunoglobulin (6-12 ml) is administered to these patients, anti-staphylococcal antibiotics are prescribed (oxacillin, methicillin, ceporin 1g 4 times a day).
In order not to think about how to treat the flu, the best way to avoid infection is to get vaccinated (vaccinated) every year during the flu season. Each year, vaccines are released according to the expected strain of the virus. Vaccination is especially important for people at risk of becoming ill with a severe form of illness.
Also for the prevention of influenza, it is important to isolate patients from non-diseased, the use of personal protective equipment (face gauze masks) are effective, but ideally (in fact, it is difficult to strictly adhere to this regime).
Do not forget about good hygiene habits:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water or hand wash that contains alcohol.
- Do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth.
- If possible, avoid close contact with sick people.
- Do not use the same cutlery, glasses, towels and other personal items used by other people.