Influenza

Influenza (also known as seasonal flu) is a highly infectious illness caused by a flu virus.

SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS
Symptoms of Influenza appear suddenly, unlike the common cold, where less-severe symptoms appear gradually. The gap between exposure to the flu virus and development of symptoms is 2 to 3 days. A person becomes infectious approximately one day before the onset of symptoms. Acute symptoms last for 3 to 7 days with complete recovery taking up to three weeks. Symptoms include:
• Fever and/or chills. Temperature usually reaches 38 degrees C/100 degrees F and can rise to 41 degrees C/105.8 degrees F. (The common cold usually involves a small increase in temperature.)
• Body aches and pains which cause the whole body to ache, particularly the joints. (In the case of the common cold, aching is mild and usually confined to the legs.)
• Fatigue.
• Cough and an extremely sore throat. (The common cold involves a less severe, "scratchy" throat.)
• Headache, which is usually severe. (Minor headache is associated with the common cold.).

Influenza usually lasts for 1-2 weeks, with chest problems being common. In contrast, people usually recover quite quickly from the common cold.
Complications of Influenza include pneumonia, sinusitis, bronchitis and otitis media in children.

SYMPTOMS IN CHILDREN
It is advisable that parents of sick children should seek medical attention early if children have respiratory illness such as cough or difficulty breathing with fever and lethargy.

TREATMENT OPTIONS
Always consult your Doctor for diagnosis and advice. This information is in no way intended to replace the advice of a medical practitioner.
There are drugs available from your Doctor for the treatment of all strains of Influenza A and B. These drugs must be taken within 48 hours of symptom onset to be effective. These drugs can reduce the severity of symptoms by almost half and reduce secondary complications by up to 50%.

Treatment - Other
• Bed rest is recommended.
• Drink plenty of fluids.
• Antipyretics (drugs that reduce fever)/analgesics (drugs that relieve pain) provide relief from fever, headache and muscle pains. Aspirin should not be given to children with Influenza due to the possible risk of developing Reye's syndrome.
• Decongestants can provide relief from nasal obstruction or catarrh.

Aspirin should not be given to children under 16 years of age unless specified by a Doctor.

PREVENTION
Vaccination against Influenza is recommended for certain groups at risk. Discuss Influenza vaccination with your Doctor. Other preventative measures include; avoiding people infected with the Flu, washing hands regularly and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

NOTE
The seasonal flu vaccine has been suspended for children 5 years of age and under. See the Influenza Vaccine Suspension topic for further information.

VITAMINS/MINERALS/HERBS
Supplements may only be of value if dietary intake is inadequate.
• Vitamin A, beta-carotene, vitamin C with bioflavonoids and vitamin E are associated with healthy immune function.
• Zinc is also an important element of the immune process and is thought to work in conjunction with many of the vitamins mentioned above.
• Selenium deficiency may cause longer and more severe influenza infections.
• Echinacea, garlic and golden seal are reputed to have anti-bacterial properties, along with immune enhancing activity.
• Horseradish and elecampane may assist in resolving mucus.
• Chamomile, liquorice, yarrow, boneset, peppermint and elderflower are herbs, which make soothing teas reputed to ease the symptoms of colds and flu.

AROMATHERAPY
The listed essential oils are suggested for the temporary relief of the symptoms of Influenza. The most specific oils are shown in capitals.
Aniseed, Basil, Citronella, EUCALYPTUS, Grapefruit, Lavender, Lemon, Lime, Myrrh, Orange, Peppermint, PINE, TEA TREE, THYME

Application
MASSAGE: Blend any single listed essential oil or combination of several essential oils - 5 drops (total) to 10mL (1/3 fl oz) vegetable carrier oil i.e.: Sweet Almond, Apricot Kernel. Apply twice daily to chest, upper back and throat with gentle massage.

STEAM INHALATION: In a bowl containing one litre of steaming water add 5 drops (total) of essential oil; cover head with towel and inhale while leaning over bowl. Keep eyes closed.

VAPORISATION: Add 5 drops (total) single essential oil or combination of several essential oils listed to water in oil burner.

The following recommendations are for an adult. For infants over 3 months and up to 2 years use 1/4 dose i.e.: 1 drop to 10ml (1/3 fl oz); children 2-12 years and during pregnancy use 1/2 dose.

PHARMACIST'S ADVICE
Ask your MedAux Pharmacist for advice.
1. Have adequate rest.
2. Avoid smoking. Ask your MedAux Pharmacist about the Smoking Cessation programme.
3. Increase fluid intake.
4. A variety of cold medications will help relieve the symptoms of Influenza. Ask your Pharmacist for advice.
5. Using a germicidal hand wash can help to prevent the spread of infection to others.
6. A suitable pain reliever such as paracetamol or ibuprofen might be suggested to provide relief from fever, headache and muscle pains.
7. Decongestants can provide relief from nasal obstruction or catarrh.
8. If dietary intake is inadequate supplements may be of benefit.