Influenza: A Common Epidemic Fever

 By: Eloisa Roberts
Influenza, also known as the flu, is a viral infection of the respiratory system that primarily affects the throat, bronchi, nose and the lungs. This infection can last for a week or so. Sudden aching muscles, sore throat, headache, severe malaise and even high fever characterize it. Like other fevers, the cardinal symptoms are high temperature, stiffness of the limbs and a sore throat.

Influenza spreads fast. It is spread by direct contact through the air. The virus easily passes on from person to person - through droplets or small particles produced when infected people sneeze or cough. Most people infected by influenza recover without medical treatment. However, in the very young, the elderly and those with other serious medical conditions, the infection can lead to severe complications. The underlying condition can be pneumonia or death.

Fever is the main symptom of influenza. It can last from 3-7 days. Fever can be as high as 103-105 degrees F or 39.5-41•°C. In the absence of fever, patients usually feel better but so much sweating is present. Fever can also result to dehydration since body water is lost in the onset of high temperatures.

When experiencing influenza, patient should take only liquid food for 2 to 3 days. Solid foods may be avoided temporarily. Fruit juices and vegetable are also very beneficial as well as one or two glasses of hot water. You can also apply cold compresses on the head.

A person with influenza should be covered with light clothing when there is fever present. This is in order for the heat in the body to get out. Get rid of extra clothes and blankets from an influenza patient unless they start to feel cold or they start to shiver.

Washing the patient's skin with warm water or wash cloth can lessen fever. You can also help him take a shower. Do not use alcohol or cold water. Sweating is a good sign that the body is losing heat. Monitor the fever with a clean and good thermometer. Normal body temperature is 98.6•°F (37.0•°C) though it varies between the time of day and in people with different body weight and other factors. Body temperature with fever is 101.5•°F (38.6•°C).

Widespread influenza or an outbreak happens every now and then, as it had been an epidemic for the past years - claiming numerous lives.

Staying healthy and having strong body resistance are the best ways to avoid influenza. However if you feel your resistance is down or low, you should avoid public and crowded places, especially during epidemics. In this case, avoid theaters, shopping centers and markets. Keep distance from people with fever and those who are coughing or sneezing. Do not expose yourself to too much wet and cold weather. Avoid becoming over-worked, rundown or tired.

As usually advised, drinking alcohol and smoking can lower your resistance. So avoiding them is the best therapy. A healthy diet and a good, clean lifestyle can increase as well as maintain good and strong body resistance.
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Article Tags: influenza, fever

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According to US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly 35 to 50 million people fall prey to influenza during the flu season (November to March), every year. Viral in nature, influenza is a respiratory disease that is highly contagious. In the year 1918, nearly 100 million people died in the influenza pandemic that spread across the world, including remote regions in the arctic and the pacific islands. It was the worst natural disaster the world ever saw.
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