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more about Influenza

The flu

  • Influenza is a viral illness -- as such it is primarily an infection of the lungs.
  • Influenza can be a life-threatening illness in the very young, debilitated, and elderly.
  • Every year -- in the fall and winter -- specific strains of Influenza are prevalent.

  • In young children and infants it is a less distinct illness.
  • Classic influenza:
    1. Dry cough
    2. Sore throat
    3. Stuffy/runny nose
    4. Headache
    5. Fever
    6. Chills
    7. Lack of energy
    8. Muscle aches
    9. Red eyes
    10. Occasional nausea

  • Influenza A or Influenza B.
  • Transmitted person-to-person by respiratory droplets.

  • Clinical diagnosis by symptoms, such as fever, lack of energy, and respiratory symptoms
  • Decreased white blood cell count is common
  • Virus may be cultured
  • Antibody testing may be positive in the 2nd week

  • Bed rest as needed
  • Adequate fluid intake
  • Nonsalicylate containing antipyretics (e.g., Tylenol or ibuprofen for fever and ache)
  • Cough suppressants as needed
  • Antiviral medications, e.g., Ribavirin aerosolized, amantadine hydrochloride for influenza type A outbreaks
  • Antibiotics are not effective against Influenza but may be prescribed if a secondary infection such as Bronchitis or Pneumonia is suspected.

  • Pneumonia
  • Bronchitis, Bronchiolitis
  • Otitis Media (middle ear infection)
  • Sinusitis
  • Laryngotracheitis
  • Reye's Syndrome -- a rare complication in children in which liver failure and brain swelling occur.  Aspirin increases the likelihood of this syndrome and should always be avoided in children (Tylenol and ibuprofen are usually safe for children, with doctor's supervision)

  • The Influenza vaccine, generally available annually in October or November, provides protection against influenza strains of the coming year.  Vaccines are made each year specifically for the current year.  High risk individuals who should definitely get the vaccine include children 6 months of age and older in chronic care facilities; children with respiratory illnesses, such as asthma; those with metabolic diseases, including Diabetes Mellitus, kidney dysfunction; those taking immunosuppressive therapy such cancer medication; and those receiving long-term aspirin therapy.

more about Influenza

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