Influenza is also known as grippe and flu.
It is a highly contagious disease caused by several different strains of virus that somehow seem to change from one year to another. At times they are extremely virulent in their effects on the human body, while at other times they are not.
The great influenza epidemic following world war 1 probably swept off four times as many people as were Killed during those frightful years of war. In India alone, more than 5 million deaths were reported, but the actual number must have been far greater. People of all ages were stricken, and of those who died more than half were under 40 years of age. Men who seemed in the prime of life would come down with chills and fever and be dead in a few hours, probably because of pneumonia, meningitis or encephalitis that seemed to accompany that most severe of all influenza epidemics.
Influenza always strikes suddenly.
– It usually begins with chills, fever, headache, and severe muscular pains in the back and extremities.
– The victim feels weak and is thoroughly miserable. The virus is probably spread through the community by means of coughing and sneezing.
– Inflammation in the nose and throat may spread down the windpipe to the lungs, causing a sore throat, cough, running of the eyes and nose.
– Soreness may develop in the soft palate, and the back of the throat may be red owing to the presence of bacterial infection.
– In milder cases, the temperature rises to 102°F and last two or three days. In more severe cases, it may go up to 104°F and continue for four to five days.
– The victim experiences weakness, sweating and fatigue which may last for several weeks. This may be followed by a deep chest cough due to irritation of the windpipes.
– Serious complications include pneumonia, pleurisy and empyema or pus in the pleural cavity.
– On young children, the disease may start with a convulsion, the temperature rapidly going up to perhaps 106°F.
+ The patient feels thoroughly miserable and worn-out.
+ In older people, with heart disease, the outlook is always serious. Severe and prolonged depression sometimes follows an attack of influenza, possibly because of the effect of the virus on the brain and nervous system.
– Ear infections and sinusitis are frequent and may continue to give trouble long after the influenza itself has disappeared especially in older people.
– Keep the patient in bed and insist that they stay there until they get well again.
– Give plenty of fluids by mouth, particularly during the fever stage. An ice bag or cold cloth to the forehead may help to relieve a severe headache.
– If there is a troublesome cough, medicated steam inhalation may help to relieve a sore throat.
– Paracetamol or similar medicines to Aspirin will help to bring down the fever, the usual dose for an adult being one to two tablets every three hours or, and as prescribed by the physician.
– Patients who are very ill should always be under the care of a physician, if there’s any question of pneumonia, severe bronchitis or infections of the throat or ears.
Although influenza is more common during the colder months, it may strike at any time.
– Influenza vaccines are now available for protection against certain strains of the viris, but they must be given before an epidemic strikes.
– Most important of all is to build a good resistance against infection by following a sensible programme of living. You should keep the body in good condition choosing a well balanced diet, and avoid consuming excess sugar and sweets.
– Train yourself to stand sudden changes in temperature.
– Take frequent baths and cold showers, followed by a vigorous rub down with a coarse towel. This will bring a healthy glow to the skin, and at the same time tone up the whole body and increase your resistance to all types of infectious disease.
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