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Influenza: Síntomas y Prevención, MSN Doctor Noticias

Influenza: Symptoms and Prevention

What is influenza?
It is an acute respiratory disease, produced by the influenza virus. Unlike the common cold, its symptoms are of greater intensity and severity. The duration of the disease is "self-limited", that is, it improves on its own after a few days. However, it can sometimes lead to more serious conditions, such as pneumonia and other complications, which rarely can lead to death. These complications occur especially in the elderly, in people with chronic diseases, in nursing children and in pregnant women.

Influenza: Síntomas y Prevención, MSN Doctor Noticias

How is it spread?
Flu is usually spread between a sick person and healthy people through droplets of saliva that are generated by coughing or sneezing.
  The main mechanism is through the hands, which touch surfaces contaminated with respiratory secretions of a patient who recently coughed and sneezed. By putting contaminated hands to your face, the virus enters the respiratory tract. For this reason, frequent hand washing and covering your mouth when coughing or sneezing is important when you are sick. It is also recommended that the patient wear a mask when in the presence of other people.

The incubation period (which is the time that elapses between infection and the appearance of the first symptom) lasts between one to four days. People begin transmitting the infection a day or two before symptoms appear and up to five days after that time.

Influenza: Síntomas y Prevención, MSN Doctor Noticias

What are your symptoms?
The most notorious thing about influenza is that it manifests itself suddenly, without prior warnings, causing a sudden high fever (above 38 degrees) which lasts an average of two or three days, and can reach a week. Along with high fever, the disease is accompanied by fatigue or weakness that can be extreme, which in the case of older adults can last longer than normal (two to five days). Often it is also romadizo or coryza.

It is also common for the person to suffer from a headache in the frontal or generalized area. Painful swallowing and coughing, muscle pain, joint pain, and light discomfort are common, symptoms that can last for more than a week. Sometimes stomach problems (such as nausea, vomiting and diarrhea) and otitis can appear, although these symptoms are more frequent in children.

Influenza can also aggravate the symptoms of other diseases that people already have, such as: heart failure, diabetes, pneumonia from bacterial superinfection, dehydration, and others. Difficulty breathing is one of the most serious complications that can occur in children.

In children under three months, apnea (cessation of breathing) may occur. In young infants the disease can present only with a high fever. Symptoms usually disappear spontaneously within a few days, but the cough and lightheadedness may persist for more than two weeks.


How to prevent?
For seasonal influenza there is a vaccine that is given annually and is indicated in all people. Each year the Ministry of Health conducts a free campaign for those most at risk of complications from influenza, such as the elderly, pregnant women, infants and those with chronic diseases.
  Vaccination is also indicated for all health personnel, because they are more exposed to contagion.

Influenza can be prevented by practicing basic hygiene measures, such as frequent hand washing with soap and water or alcohol-gel preparations and the proper use of tissues to cover the mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing.

Treatment and prognosis
Most people recover spontaneously with only general measures such as drinking plenty of fluids, using fever-reducing medications (antipyretics), and bed rest. In people with more severe symptoms, antivirals can be used to treat the infection. It is important to rest and avoid visits from other people so as not to spread the disease.

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