Symptoms of influenza

Apr 14, 2012 , Michelle Jakubíčková

chripka-a-jeji-priznaky.jpg - kopie
chripka-a-jeji-priznaky.jpg - kopie
Influenza is a very common illness that can affect individuals more than once a year. Prevention of influenza or early treatment of influenza is possible, but one must be familiar with its symptoms. The most common of which are headache, sore muscles and joints, fatigue, fever and cough. These symptoms depend upon the progression of the illness, which can differ in children and adults.

Symptoms of influenza

Influenza is an acute, highly contagious viral disease, whose incidence is connected with the winter months.  Every year, there are multiple epidemics of influenza of varying size.  500 million people become infected with influenza each year.  The flu spreads quickly in poorly ventilated rooms filled with large numbers of individuals.  Therefore it is important to ensure proper ventilation in common rooms.  Symptoms of influenza usually appear with 24-72 hours of infection, which is most often due to contact with infected individuals or contaminated objects.

Symptoms of the flu are very always very similar, even though the virus mutates from year to year.  Immunosuppressed individuals are at a high risk for repeated infection, even during short time intervals. If a detailed study was done, then it would be clear that the viruses were slightly dissimilar, therefore allowing re-infection.  Although they are rare, more aggressive forms of influenza do exist and are capable of causing the death of millions of people.  Between 1918 and 1920 in Europe, many soldiers were infected with Spanish influenza when returning home from the battlefields of World War I.  This form of influenza was characteristic because it worsened the common symptoms of classical influenza and caused an over-activation of the immune system. The mortalita of Spanish influenza was 2-5%.

Transmission of influenza

Influenza is a viral infection which is transmitted thorugh the air by aerosols.  These particles are breathed in and enter the lungs where they infect the host.  The mucous membrane of the respiratory system becomes the main area of infection, from where the virus replicates and spreads into the body.  Infection most often occurs due to close contact with an infected person.  The incubation period, the time from infection to the appearance of the first symptoms, takes one to three days.  In the first two days of infection, the virus is replicated and its numbers double every 4 to 8 hours.  Infected cells quickly die and release the newly replicated virus, which then attacks more cells or is breathed out into the surroundings.

Most common symptoms of influenza

Symptoms of the flu appear quickly, often from full health.  These symptoms include high fever (up to 40 º C), chills, headache, eye pain and sore muscles and joints.  The sick person is extremely fatigued, even exhausted.  Sometimes the sick person can have a feeling of plugged ears and problems concentrating.  Gradually, the symptoms begin to gain momentum and can include coughing which can appear in different forms, from dry and non-productive to productive with expectoration of thick white mucous.  The sick person can have chest pain that increases during coughing and also a sore throat and inflammed nasal mucosa or " stuffy nose ".  There can also be gastrointestinal problems including a lack of appetite, nausea or constipation.  Children often suffer form vomiting, insomnia and can be dazed or have hallucinations.  In these cases, there may be suspicion of viral meningitis. 

Duration of influenza symptoms

It is possible to detect influenza immediately upon seeing a patient with red eyes and a stuffy, red nose.  In uncomplicated cases, fever will go down within 2-4 days, muscle pain will last about 3 days and breathing problems will last 7-10 days.  If the infected person begins coughing up thick, dark-coloured mucous, the fever reappears and their condition worsens, then that may be due to a superinfection. This means that together with influenza, the sick person is suffering from another infection, most often bacterial.  The appearance of a bacterial infection is often due to a weakened immune system caused by the flu.  Treatment must then include antibiotics, which are given based on cultivation from a mucosal swab.

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