Influenza A: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

woman with cough

Influenza A: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

How the Influenza A Virus is Spread

The influenza virus is an airborne virus that spreads from the infected person when he or she coughs or sneezes. People often develop the infection upon touching something that has the virus on it, like clothing, etc. and touching the unwashed hand to their mouth eyes, or nose. Infection can spread from one healthy adult to another one day before feeling the symptoms and up to five days after. This means you can spread the virus to others before you even know you’re sick, and of course, after you develop symptoms.

Symptoms and Diagnosis of Influenza A

The symptoms of influenza are very similar to those of the common cold, and therefore, influenza is sometimes mistakenly diagnosed as a cold. The symptoms include:

  • High fever
  • Headache
  • Extreme tiredness or fatigue
  • Sore throat
  • Cough
  • Stuffy or runny nose
  • Body aches
  • Diarrhea and vomiting (this occurs more often in children as opposed to adults)

Due to the symptoms’ similarity to cold and other infectious diseases, a diagnosis is to be made very carefully. Self-diagnosis is not advised, and it is essential to visit a doctor. If tested within the first 2 or 3 days, a definite diagnosis can be made. There are specific, specialized tests that are used for diagnosing influenza. It is important that the diagnosis is made on time because the flu can cause some serious complications. Bacterial pneumonia and severe dehydration are some of the complications that can occur. If you have a pre-existing medical condition like congestive heart failure, diabetes, extra asthma care needs to be taken, for influenza can worsen the condition alarmingly. Sinus problems and ear infections may also be developed by adults and children alike.

Treatment

According to research studies, the best way to remove the influenza A virus from your hands is to use warm water and ordinary soap and to wash thoroughly for at least 15 to 20 seconds or preferably for a full minute.

You should also scrub under your nails and make sure to clean the entire top and bottom surfaces of the hand and wrist, not just the palm and fingers. Reserve antibacterial gel for times when you don’t have access to running water, because they are much less efficient than plain soap and water.

In addition to handwashing, a mask and gloves are recommended for those with the immune system deficiencies or chronic health problems. For healthy people, however, masks and gloves offer minimal benefit.

To try to keep your immune system strong, make sure to eat a balanced diet, take a multivitamin, and get plenty of exercises. Be sure to load up on Vitamin C and stay well hydrated. Also, make sure to visit your primary care physician to be evaluated and treated for any chronic health conditions you may have. Influenza can be prevented by getting vaccinated against it every year. Two types of vaccines are available all over the world:

The “Flu Shot”: This is a conventional injection-type vaccine that contains the inactive form of the influenza virus. It is safe for use by healthy people above six months of age, including senior citizens and those who have pre-existing medical conditions.

The nasal spray flu vaccine: this contains a weakened version of the influenza virus, and is safe for use with healthy people between the ages of 2-49, not including pregnant women.

The yearly vaccine cycle should ideally begin in September as influenza viruses are active at the earliest by October and are at their peak during January. Treatment of influenza can also be done through prescription medicines. Since these are strong antibiotics, it is highly advisable to accompany their course with a strong multivitamin capsule.

Dr. Reddy is currently conducting clinical trials for those who are ages 18-65  and have tested positive for the Influenza A infection. If you are currently being treated for this condition, you may qualify to participate in our clinical research study. Study related medication, procedures, and doctor’s visits are FREE for clinical trial participants, and you will also be compensated for your participation. For more information, please contact Claudia, our Research Coordinator, at 714-968-1913.

Dr. Sue Reddy specializes in the treatment of infectious disease among many other specialties. She understands what is required to live a healthy, active life. Please feel free to take a look around her website and if you feel she provides services you may be interested in, give Dr. Reddy a call. Her staff would be more than happy to set up an appointment and answer any questions you may have.