Fight Flu With Common Sense And Precautions

If you have always thought that common sense is the most uncommon quality humans possess; you could be right. There are several ailments which rear their heads in winter. Most of them can be kept at bay with some common sense methods, and by following routine hygiene measures. Take the example of common cold. Making a point of washing your hands several times a day, especially before meals, is routine hygiene. You might have touched door knobs, light switches, and even the touchscreen of your smartphone — all such surfaces teem with all kinds of bacteria. Prevent such infections from spreading.

Don’t Confuse Influenza with Common Cold
The symptoms of both the common cold and influenza (usually referred to as flu) are similar, and lead people to confuse one for the other. Since few people visit the general practitioner when they have a runny nose, sore throat, headache, and fever; they might end up taking over the counter (OTC) drugs to alleviate symptoms of what they imagine is just a common cold. There could also be earache and a blocked nose. Doctors often come across cases of flu gone rogue because the patient thought they had a common cold, and just relied on Vitamin C tablets and steam inhalation to get well.

How Do You Differentiate?
If the sniffles and sore throat are accompanied by severe body ache and high fever, don’t dawdle. Whoever may be the patient, flu might cause serious breathing difficulties. It is difficult to identify when an asthmatic patient is suffering from breathing difficulties due to the change of season, or due to the onset of flu. Just keep in mind that flu is an infection of the nose, throat, and lungs. So, if the chest feels heavy even without fever — every person has a different immune response — and the breath has got raspy; see a doctor before it worsens. However, high fever is indicative of some kind of infection as it is your body’s way of fighting invaders. There might also be nausea, vomiting, and/or diarrhea.

Don’t self-medicate: If you already have a weakened immune system or suffer from any chronic ailment like cardiac disease, kidney dysfunction, or diabetes; don’t waste time. Even if it is only a common cold; it won’t take long for it to deteriorate into pneumonia, or at least bronchitis unless you receive professional attention. Don’t rely on OTC drugs for such situations.

Loss of sense of smell and taste: One of the nastier side-effects of the flu is the loss of sense of smell and taste. Usually, both come back after a while, especially in younger patients. The risk is that such a person won’t recognize when the gas cylinder in their home is leaking, or when food has gone bad.

Supportive Care Is Vital
Whether your doctor prescribes any antibiotics or not, it is vital to offer supportive care to the patient. In these days when everyone is rushing all the time, it sounds old fashioned to prescribe rest. Most people prefer to pop pills, and continue with their daily grind. Nothing could be more harmful for your overall health. Follow the common sense route of rest, plenty of fluids, especially water, and light diet to recover better. It will ensure that you don’t suffer any lingering malaise for the next few weeks even though the infection might have been eliminated. Vegetable broths, stock, soups, lightly steamed vegetables, raw fruits, porridge, and pudding are preferable food to ensure that diarrhea doesn’t worsen or

Antivirals might be needed: Though pain and fever management are major components of flu care, in certain cases, the doctor might prescribe more than just paracetamol, or acetaminophen, and some antihistamine, depending on the gravity of the infection. Antivirals are given when the doctor suspects complications which might cause a patient to get bronchitis or pneumonia, if not nipped in the bud. It might be a good idea to add a course of Vitamin B complex reinforced with Vitamin C to ensure that the patient isn’t weakened too much, and recovers faster.

Vaccination Does Not Guarantee Prevention:
There has been a growing propensity to prescribe flu vaccination to prevent people, especially children and family elders who are the most susceptible to infection, from getting flu. However, you might still get flu from strains which were not included in the vaccine. Few people realize that there are several kinds of flu, and that you might catch any of them.

Do this: Gargle with warm salt water. Always cover the nose and mouth with a large cloth or handkerchief when coughing or sneezing. Use paper tissues to blow your nose instead of cotton handkerchiefs when you have either a common cold or the flu. It prevents reinfection. Clean the patient’s linen, clothes, and utensils thoroughly before reuse. If the patient is a young child or a family elder, it might be a good idea to give a final rinse to the clothes in water which has had a measure of disinfectant poured into it. Also, pour a disinfectant in the water used for swabbing the floor.

Avoid: Try not to touch the mouth and nose with hands, since that is the route infection spreads most easily. Above all, don’t overstrain.

Content Reviewed by – Asian Hospital Medical Editors