How to Protect Against Flu?
Flu becomes a fearful dream with the change of seasons. Every year, millions of people around the world catch the flu virus and experience the effects of this disease. Influenza is a contagious respiratory infection caused by the influenza virus. In this article, you will learn more about the flu and how you can alleviate this problem by understanding how to prevent the flu, its symptoms and treatment methods.
What is Flu (Influenza)?
Influenza is an infectious respiratory disease caused by the influenza virus. The influenza virus typically spreads through the mouth and nose and affects the body. Flu is characterised by symptoms such as high fever, severe headaches, muscle and joint pain, fatigue and cough. Millions of people around the world get sick with flu every year, which shows how widespread the disease is.
What are the Types of Influenza?
Influenza is divided into three main types, A, B and C. Type A flu is the most common and can seriously affect people. Type B flu causes milder symptoms, while type C flu is usually limited to mild symptoms.
What are the Symptoms of Flu?
Flu manifests itself with many signs and symptoms. The most common flu symptoms are:
- High fever
- Severe headaches
- Muscle and joint pain
- Fatigue and weakness
- Sore throat
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Diarrhoea (sometimes)
- Vomiting (sometimes)
Although flu symptoms are similar to the common cold in many people, flu symptoms are more severe and sudden onset.
Differences Between Flu and Common Cold
Flu and colds can have similar symptoms, but there are some important differences between them. Flu symptoms are usually more severe and start suddenly. Fever, severe headache and fatigue are characteristic of flu symptoms. The common cold, on the other hand, has milder symptoms and usually causes upper respiratory symptoms such as a runny nose and sneezing.
How Does Flu Spread?
Influenza spreads mainly through person-to-person contact. The most common route of transmission is inhalation of virus droplets in the air with coughs and sneezes. It can also be spread by touching your eyes, nose or mouth with your hand after touching a surface that has been in contact with the flu virus.
What We Need to Pay The Most Attention to Against The Flu
The most effective way to prevent the flu is to pay attention to hygiene rules and follow the recommendations below:
- Wash your hands frequently with soap and water.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a handkerchief or your elbow when coughing or sneezing.
- Avoid close contact with sick people.
- Get a flu vaccination.
How to Prevent Influenza?
It is important to take some precautions to protect against flu. These are
- Getting a flu vaccine.
- Washing hands regularly.
- Staying away from sick people.
- Covering your mouth when coughing or sneezing.
- Limiting hand contact in public places.
How Effective is The Flu Vaccine?
The flu vaccine is one of the most effective ways to protect against the flu virus. However, the effectiveness of the flu vaccine may change every year because the flu virus is constantly mutating. The flu vaccine is administered seasonally and can significantly reduce the risk of flu for many people. The vaccine is especially recommended for the elderly, children and people with chronic health problems.
Foods That Have an Effect on Influenza
The key to increasing resistance to respiratory infections such as the flu is to focus on a healthy eating habit and foods that strengthen the immune system. Here are some foods and drinks that can be effective on flu:
1. Foods Containing Vitamin C: Vitamin C supports the immune system. Consuming foods containing vitamin C, such as citrus fruits (oranges, tangerines, lemons), kiwi, strawberries, red peppers and broccoli, can reduce the risk of flu.
2. Ginger: Ginger has anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties. You can consume it as tea or by using it in meals.
3. Garlic: Garlic contains antioxidant components that strengthen the immune system. Garlic can be consumed by using it in meals or taking garlic extract supplements.
4. Yogurt and Fermented Milk Products: Yogurt, kefir and fermented milk products containing probiotics support intestinal health and strengthen the immune system.
5. Honey: Honey has antiviral and antibacterial properties. You can consume it by mixing it with hot water or adding it to your tea.
6. Fish: Fatty fish such as salmon, tuna and sardines containing omega-3 fatty acids support the immune system.
7. Pomegranate Juice: Pomegranate juice is full of antioxidants and can help strengthen the immune system.
8. Fruit and Vegetables: Colourful fruits and vegetables are rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Especially foods such as spinach, carrots, kale, sweet potatoes and black grapes support the immune system.
9. Spices: Spices such as turmeric, cumin and chilli have anti-inflammatory properties. Adding spices to your meals can strengthen the immune system.
10. Water: Drinking enough water maintains the body's moisture balance and supports the immune system.
During the flu or if you are at risk of getting the flu, including the above foods in your meals can strengthen your immune system. But remember that no single food or drink can completely eliminate the risk of flu. In general, a balanced diet, regular exercise and attention to hygiene rules are the basis for protection against flu and other infections. In addition, getting a flu vaccination is also an important step to reduce the risk of flu.
Similarities and Differences Between Covid-19 and Flu
Covid-19 and influenza have some similar symptoms, but there are key differences. Both diseases are spread through the respiratory tract, but severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS-CoV-2) caused by Covid-19 can be more fatal and cause long-term health problems. Also, Covid-19 is not as widespread as the flu, but has pandemic potential.
Influenza and Its Impact on Our Immune System
Influenza has important effects on our immune system. The influenza virus settles on the mucous membranes of the respiratory tract and triggers the immune system's response. The immune system produces antibodies against this virus and tries to destroy it. However, the influenza virus can mutate rapidly, which is why different flu strains* emerge each year. This explains why the flu vaccine needs to be updated every year.
Influenza in Children and The Elderly
Influenza can have different effects depending on age. Children and the elderly are more vulnerable to flu. Children are generally more vulnerable to many infectious diseases that spread rapidly, and influenza falls into this category. The elderly, on the other hand, are at risk of more serious complications from the flu as their immune system weakens. Therefore, these age groups should especially get the flu vaccination.
The Effect of Influenza on Other Diseases
Influenza can increase susceptibility to other health problems. In particular, people with chronic health conditions are at risk of more serious complications from the flu. For example, individuals with chronic diseases such as asthma, diabetes or heart disease are at greater risk from the flu. In addition, flu complications can trigger other infections such as pneumonia.
Flu and Heart Health
Influenza can affect not only the respiratory tract, but also heart health. Individuals with cardiovascular problems, especially heart disease, are at a greater risk from the flu. Flu can be a trigger for heart attacks and other cardiovascular problems. Therefore, people with heart disease can reduce this risk by getting a flu jab.
Can The Flu Cause Death?
Yes, flu can cause death. Although flu usually seems to be an infection with mild symptoms, it can cause serious complications, especially for the elderly, people with chronic health problems and people with weakened immune systems. Influenza is a common cause of death due to respiratory infections.
Serious complications from influenza include pneumonia, acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), heart failure, organ failure and other health problems. These complications can occur as a result of the spread of the flu virus in the body and can be particularly serious in people with weakened immune systems.
Every year, deaths from influenza occur worldwide, especially during the flu season. In particular, the elderly, infants, pregnant women, people with chronic diseases and immunocompromised persons are at risk of serious complications due to influenza. Therefore, these risk groups should take precautions, such as getting the flu vaccine, and seek medical attention as symptoms develop.
Since influenza can cause death, taking preventive measures, such as the flu vaccine, is extremely important to protect personal health and the general health of the community. In addition, people with flu symptoms should limit their contact with others to prevent the spread of the disease. If flu symptoms become severe or serious complications occur, it is critical to seek medical attention.
Misconceptions About Influenza
There is a lot of misinformation about the flu. Here are some examples:
- The flu jab does not give flu: The flu vaccine contains inactive viruses or virus fragments and does not cause flu. However, mild side effects may occur after vaccination.
- The flu jab is suitable for everyone: The flu jab is not suitable for all ages and health conditions. It is especially recommended for people with certain chronic health problems or for certain age groups.
- Cold weather causes flu: Cold weather can facilitate the spread of the flu virus, but cold weather in itself does not cause flu. Flu is caused by contact with the flu virus.
- Antibiotics treat flu: They are not effective against the flu virus. Antibiotics only treat bacterial infections.
Recommendations of the World Health Organisation on Influenza
The World Health Organisation (WHO) gives important advice on influenza. These recommendations are important for controlling influenza outbreaks and preventing the spread of the disease. Some of the WHO's key recommendations on influenza are as follows:
- Get vaccinated against influenza, especially for risk groups.
- Isolating people with flu symptoms from the community.
- Paying special attention to hand hygiene and covering the mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing.
- Prioritising influenza vaccination of healthcare workers and people at risk.
*strain: Groups of different subspecies of a bacterium or virus with genetic differences between them can be called "strains". There may be differences between different strains in terms of resistance to drugs, external influences, etc.
Influenza is a disease that poses a significant public health problem worldwide every year. Therefore, having the right information about influenza and practising prevention plays an important role in protecting the health of individuals and communities.