What is Influenza?

Influenza , commonly known as the flu , is an infectious disease that infects birds and mammals (primarily of the upper airways and lungs in mammals) and is caused by an RNA virus of the Orthomyxoviridae family (the influenza viruses ).

Influenza can be far more severe than the common cold and can even lead to death. Influenza and the common cold are caused by very different viruses.

There are three types of influenza virus: A, B, and C.

  • Types and are the most severe. The viruses change constantly and different strains circulate around the world every year. The body’s natural defenses cannot keep up with these changes. Therefore, a person should get a flu shot each year.
  • Type causes either a very mild illness, or has no symptoms at all. It does not cause epidemics and does not have the severe public health impact that influenza types and do.

What are the causes of Influenza?

Influenza is highly contagious. the flu is caused by three types (strains) of viruses – influenza A, B and C. Type A is responsible for the deadly influenza pandemics (worldwide epidemics) that strike every 10 to 40 years, whereas type B causes smaller, more localized outbreaks. Type C is less common and causes only mild symptoms.

The influenza virus causes the classic flu and is generally passed from person to person by airborne transmission (i.e., sneezing or coughing) or when someone comes in direct contact with an infected person’s secretions (for example, kissing, sharing of handkerchiefs and other items, and through use of objects such as spoons and forks).

What are the symptoms of Influenza?

The most characteristic symptoms of Influenza are-

  • Weakness.
  • Fatigue.
  • Muscle aches.
  • Headaches.
  • Fever(101 to 102 degrees).
  • Sneezing.
  • Runny nose.
  • Extreme tiredness.
  • Sore throat.
  • Ear infection.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Diarrhea.

A person with influenza feels very sick, it rarely leads to more serious complications, except for those at greater risk.

What is the treatment done for Influenza?

The following four antiviral medications are available to treat the influenza virus:

Oseltamivir (brand name: Tamiflu®).
Zanamivir (brand name: Relenza®).
Amantadine (brand name: Symmetrel®).
Rimantadine (brand name: Flumadine®).

The first two medications, oseltamivir (Tamiflu®) and zanamivir (Relenza®) are members of a new class of drugs that act against both influenza types A and B, while amantadine (Symmetrel ®) and rimantadine (Flimsiness®) are older medications that may be used to treat influenza type A only.