Flu, which is the common name for Influenza, is a common respiratory tract infection including nose and throat which is caused caused by a member of the Orthomyxoviridae. Other different types of viruses like paramyxoviru, rhinovirus, adenovirus etc. can also cause very similar influenza like symptoms.
After initial infection, symptoms occurs from 12 hours to 5 days. Symptoms of common flu usually resolve in 7 to 8 days. Flu occurs most frequently in winters, rainy season, humid atmosphere and sudden change of weather. Viral infection commonly spread through droplet infection through coughing, sneezing or may spread through direct contact with contaminated things or person.
Influenza is characterized by fever, myalgia, headache and pharyngitis. In addition there may be cough and in severe cases, prostration. There is usually not coryza (runny nose) which characterizes common cold infections.
Cause of Flu
Three types of influenza viruses affect people, called Type A, Type B, and Type C. Influenza viruses are RNA viruses that make up three of the five genera of the family Orthomyxovirida. The type A Influenza viruses are the most virulent human pathogens among the three influenza types and cause the severest disease.
It’s H1N1 strain caused the famous Spanish flu in 1918 and the Swine flu in 2009. Influenza B almost exclusively infects humans. Influenza C virus, which infects humans, dogs and pigs. Influenza C is less common than the other types and usually only causes mild disease in children.
Symptoms of flu
Approximately 33% of people with influenza do not develop any symptoms.
Symptoms of flu include:
- Running nose
- Watery eyes
- Obstruction of nose
- Nasal congestion
- Muscular ache
- Sore throat
- Loss of appetite
- Gastrointestinal symptoms, especially in children with Influenza B infection.
How long does the flu last?
After initial infection, symptoms occurs from 12 hours to 5 days. Symptoms of common flu usually resolve in 7 to 8 days.
Diagnosis of flu
Virus isolation – nasopharyngeal secretions are the best specimens for obtaining large amounts of virus-infected cells. Certain virus can be detected by the indirect fluorescent antibody technique.
Rapid Molecular Assay, where an upper respiratory tract specimen (mucus) is taken using a nasal swab or a nasopharyngeal swab
There may be some further complications of flu like pneumonia, acute bronchitis, sinusitis, strep throat so diagnose such condition investigations like chest X-ray, complete blood count, lungs scan has to be done.
Treatment of Flu or Influenza
Although Symptoms of common flu usually resolve in 7 to 8 days but to give relief and to prevent further complications treatment should be given. Treatment of flu should be done according to causative agent and symptoms.
The general medical guidelines for treating flu or influenza are: People with the flu are advised to get plenty of rest, drink plenty of liquids, avoid using alcohol and tobacco and, if necessary, take acetaminophen (paracetamol) to relieve the fever and muscle aches associated with the flu. They are also advised to avoid close contact with others to prevent spread of infection.
The two classes of antiviral drugs used against influenza are neuraminidase inhibitors like oseltamivir, zanamivir, laninamivir and peramivir and M2 protein inhibitors like adamantane derivatives.
Influenza vaccine or Flu Shots
The influenza vaccine is recommended by the World Health Organization for high-risk groups, such as children, the elderly, health care workers, and people who have chronic illnesses such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease, or are immuno-compromised among others. Due to the high mutation rate of the virus, a particular influenza vaccine usually confers protection for no more than a few years.
Side effects of Flu Shots
Vaccines can cause the immune system to react as if the body were actually being infected, and flu like symptoms can appear after a flu shot, though these symptoms are usually not as severe or long-lasting as influenza.
The most dangerous side effect is a severe allergic reaction to either the virus material itself or residues from the hen eggs used to grow the influenza.
Common side effects of the flu shot include:
- Soreness, redness, and/or swelling from the shot
- Muscle aches
There is also a possible small association of injectable flu vaccine with Guillain-Barré syndrome, in which, body’s immune system damages nerve cells, causing muscle weakness and sometimes paralysis.
Signs of a severe allergic reaction to the flu shot can include:
- Difficulty breathing
- Hoarseness or wheezing
- Swelling around the eyes or lips
- A fast heart beat or dizziness
Homeopathy Treatment for Flu, Influenza
Homeopathy is one of the most popular holistic systems of medicine. The selection of remedy is based upon the theory of individualization and symptoms similarity by using holistic approach.
This is the only way through which a state of complete health can be regained by removing all the sign and symptoms from which the patient is suffering.
The aim of homeopathy is not only to treat flu symptoms but to address its underlying cause and individual susceptibility. As far as therapeutic medication is concerned, several well-proved medicines are available for treating flu symptoms that can be selected on the basis of cause, condition, sensation and modalities of the complaints.
For individualized remedy selection and treatment, the patient should consult a qualified homeopathic doctor in person. Some important homeopathic remedies for treating symptoms of flu include:
Influenzinum, Aconite, Arsenic alb, Bryonia, Belladonna, Hepar sulph, Allium cepa, Euphrasia, Ipecac, Ammonium carb, Aurum triph, Phosphorous, Merc sol, Gelsemium, Sabadilla, Dulcamara, Sticta, Eupatorium perf and many other medicines.
This remedy corresponds to the commencement of the trouble, when the patient is weak, tired and aches throughout the body. It removes speedily the intense aching and muscular soreness. There is constant chilliness and the patient hugs the fire; the fever is less acute than that of Aconite, and the cough is hard and painful.
There are paroxysms of sneezing with excoriating discharge, and great torpor and apathy. An extensive experience with this remedy in the great Flu Epidemic of 1918 proved its usefulness. Simple cases were speedily cured.
Aconite will sometimes prove the better remedy for children, but the drug will never be a prominent one in influenza. Still it may be prescribed when indicated; it will, perhaps, soothe and moderate the subsequent attack, but its action is not quick here as in simple fevers, as we have to do with a blood affection.
The gastro-intestinal form of flu (Influenza B) may need this remedy, especially when there are present putrid diarrhoea stools. Clarke considers this remedy the nearest specific for the disease; he prefers the 30th potency. Hughes also praises it, but uses it in the 1x and 2x dilutions, which seem to have more extensive testimony as to their efficacy.
This remedy has much soreness and aching of the entire body; hoarseness and cough, with great soreness of the larynx and upper respiratory tract. Coryza with thirst and drinking causes vomiting. The cough is a very shattering one, hurts the head and chest, and as in Drosera, the patient holds the chest with the hands.
The breakbone pains are characteristic of the remedy. Add to these symptoms acute bilious derangement, and it is all the more indicated. Many physicians rely on this remedy in flu almost exclusively in the early stages.
Sneezing is the great keynote of this remedy. Sneezing and lachrymation on going into the open air. The throat is swollen and the pain is worse on empty swallowing; the sneezing is excessive, shaking the whole body.
Shudderings , with gooseflesh chills creeping upwards, are also prominent symptoms. Frontal headache, dryness of mouth, without thirst and cough, worse on lying down, are additional symptoms. It suits well many cases of the catarrhal form of influenza; other remedies having sneezing are Cyclamen and Euphorbia.
This remedy corresponds to the trial form of influenza. It covers more phases of flu than perhaps any other remedy. Hughes believes that it will cut short an attack, especially when there is a copious flow, prostration and paroxysmal coryza.
Its periodicity makes it suitable to epidemics, and it suits the early symptoms when the affection is in the upper portion of the respiratory tract. The burning dryness and copious watery excoriating secretion and the involvement of the conjunctiva are unmistakable indications.
Langour and prostration are prominent symptoms. Arsenicum iodide. Chills, flushes of heat and severe fluent coryza, discharge irritating and corrosive, sneezing and prostration. It corresponds to true influenza and is highly recommended by Hale.
Sanguinaria nitrate is especially valuable when the trachea and larynx are affected. Phytolacca. Specific when the throat is inflamed and spotty, with great hardness and tenderness of the glands.
This is one of our best remedies in the acute form; the eyes are suffused, the throat is sore and the cough hurts because of the muscular soreness. If brought on by damp, cold changes in the weather, so much the surer is Dulcamara indicated. Bryonia.
The trouble here is largely bronchial and going down. Phosphorus may be indicated, especially when the trouble moves towards the chest. It is a very useful remedy for the debility following influenza, as it is usually of the pure nervous type. It is the great post-influenza “tonic.”
Influenza, with severe aching in all the bones, sneezing and coughing. The cough is worse evenings and is caused by a tickling behind the upper part of the sternum. Especially is it useful in cases brought on by exposure to dampness.
There is much prostration and depression, and the patient may have some symptoms which are suspicious as pointing towards typhoid fever, such as burning tongue, stupor and delirium. Aching pains, nightly restlessness are keynotes symptoms.
Causticum, like both Rhus and Eupatorium,has a tired, sore, bruised sensation all over the body and soreness in the chest when coughing, but it has in addition involuntary urination when coughing.
Profuse catarrhal coryza; the nose runs freely, there is sneezing, irritability cough, the face is swollen and looks inflamed. Camphora. This remedy is often sufficient at the outset to cut short an attack, or at least modify the severity.
Nasal catarrh; headache, thirst, nightly expectoration, great watering of eyes, running at nose, hoarseness of voice, frontal headache and depression of whole system. Tuberculous subjects attacked by flu. “There is no better remedy,” says Dr. Fornias,”for the incessant wearing, racking cough of this class of patients.” According to Dewey, Tuberculinum is an excellent prevention of recurring attacks of flu in those who have annual attacks.