Flu: how to behave at the first symptoms

The flu heals sooner and better if you treat yourself adequately from the onset of symptoms and if you respect a rest period of a few days. Here’s what to do to fight pathogenic viruses and avoid contagion to other people.

Flu symptoms: what are they

You are at the end of an afternoon of a tiring day, like many others. Tired, very tired. But, today, also sore. With a heavy head, a beginning of sore throat and a vague feeling of nausea. Just the first sneeze was missing. Here. And a beginning of reddened nose. These are the typical symptoms of a cold, most likely an infection by the flu virus. It is useless to delude oneself that it will pass overnight.

Not even this year you have provided for vaccination in time, the only real weapon of prevention, and the flu has arrived: almost impossible to escape, moreover, in the months from November to March. In a few hours the fever will rise (up to 38.5-39 ° C, if you are unlucky even to 40 ° C). The signs are clear and the evolution of the clinical picture foreseeable. All that remains is to resign oneself, trying to remember what must be done to stem the damage and limit suffering.

Another typical symptom of the flu is musculoskeletal painto which can be added, depending on the case:

  • increased sweating
  • stuffy nose
  • asthenia
  • Dizziness
  • malaise
  • exhaustion
  • loss of appetite
  • sense of prostration.

Headache and chills are also typical, as well as coughing. The latter is a very frequent symptom and is accompanied by the production of phlegm. In some forms it can last even several days after the disappearance of the fever.

In young children, an abrupt onset of fever can cause febrile seizures. This is an event that alarms parents and generally pushes them to go to the emergency room, but in most cases they have no consequences on the health of the child. Simple seizures, i.e. lasting 2-3 minutes, do not damage the brain of children and are not considered an indication of epilepsy.

Symptoms that should instead arouse the concern of parents, and therefore require medical advice, are:

  • difficulty breathing or rapid breathing
  • blue-to-blue skin color
  • rash
  • crying without tears
  • inability to take fluids (for example due to vomiting/diarrhoea) and therefore risk of dehydration.

Symptoms of the flu and what to do

Heavy head, tiredness, widespread pain, and maybe coughing, sneezing, cold or chills. The symptomatology is unequivocal: you have been affected by the flu virus. Treating yourself immediately will allow you to get to full recovery sooner and better, while some practical measures will help to avoid the contagion of family and friends, who will be unquestionably grateful.

Do you want nothing more than to go to bed? Perfect. Because in case of flu rest is the best medicine. It allows the body to save energy and focus on the most important and urgent activity: fighting influenza viruses with maximum efficiency to heal quickly and well.

Had you planned an unmissable business meeting, dinner with friends, the concert awaited for months, the weekend on the snow already paid? Patience, it will be for another time, and no one will make a drama because with your absence you will have avoided favoring the transmission of one of the most common infectious diseases among adults and children and particularly risky for those suffering from chronic diseases, in particular respiratory (asthma, emphysema, COPD, etc.) and cardiovascular (coronary heart disease, heart failure, etc.).

For a few days (on average three to seven) all you have to do is stay safely at home, in a comfortable environment, but not too hot; tire as little as possible; eat healthy and digestible, but nutritious foods, even if you do not have an appetite and try to drink as much as possible, but in small sips, in case of high fever, nausea and vomiting, to avoid dehydration; increase the intake of vitamins, through lots of fresh fruit and vegetables, juices and fruit juices and / or multivitamin supplements and mineral salts.

Drink a lot. And stay away from others to avoid contagion

As already mentioned, when you have the flu it is important to drink plenty of fluids, especially if you have a high fever and sweat a lot, to avoid experiencing more or less significant states of dehydration, which increase debilitation and reduce the body’s ability to counteract pathogenic microorganisms.

In this regard, it should be remembered that those who are most at risk of dehydration and its adverse effects are above all younger children and the elderly, who are also the two categories of people who perceive less the stimulus of thirst and should therefore be invited to drink water or any other liquid often (fruit juices, chamomile, herbal teas, light tea, milk, broths etc.).

Moreover, since any infection makes you feel a little weak and down, it is not a bad idea to be pampered a little, without exasperating family members with continuous complaints and requests that, after a couple of days, could arouse a certain irritation more than affection and empathy.

Both to improve breathing and to lower the concentration of influenza viruses in the air and thus reduce the likelihood of transmission to other people, it is advisable to periodically ventilate the room that hosts you, being careful not to catch cold. Always to avoid scattering too many pathogenic microorganisms in the environment, it is important to avoid constantly wandering around the house increasing the risk of infecting your partner, any children or, worse, grandparents, who could encounter more serious discomfort in case of flu infection.

Even washing your hands often with soap and water or disinfectant gels, using separate linen in the bathroom and putting glasses, cups and cutlery in the dishwasher immediately after use are good prevention strategies in the family, to be respected throughout the duration of the flu (or other infectious colds, even less important).

And some medicine, to treat the most annoying ailments

Given these behavioral norms, let’s move on to the pharmacological flu remedies that can help alleviate the greatest discomforts. Fever and general malaise in the first place, but also the risk of convulsions in predisposed younger children, in case of febrile episodes characterized by sudden rises and equally sudden reductions in body temperature.

On this front, if you are over 16 years old and do not suffer from chronic diseases that require the intake of specific drugs, for a few days you can safely rely on an active ingredient of the category of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).

NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen, ketoprofen and acetylsalicylic acid, act as antipyretics, anti-inflammatories and analgesics, and their efficacy and safety are proven by consolidated use on tens of millions of people worldwide. Every single intake will allow you to quickly lower your body temperature, relieve musculoskeletal pain and headaches and feel better overall.

Some NSAIDs are also indicated for use as antipyretics and painkillers in children, from the first years of life, but in this case it is always preferable to consult the pediatrician before administering the drug and receive from the doctor precise indications on the dosage to be used (established based on weight and age) and on the timing of treatment (interval between administrations and total days of therapy).

Both in adults and children, before taking antipyretics it is good to check with the help of a reliable thermometer the body temperature present: in general, if the temperature is below 38.0 ° C, you should not use drugs to lower it because, within certain limits, fever is a physiological reaction of the body that helps fight pathogenic microorganisms and promotes healing. However, if the malaise associated with influenza is considerable or in the case of children who tend to have seizures, antipyretics can also be used in case of modest fever (37.5-38 ° C).

A very high fever (above 39.0-39.5 ° C), on the other hand, must always be looked at with suspicion, especially if it does not fall after 2-3 doses of antipyretic (appropriately spaced over time) and if it is associated with a state of evident prostration, especially in children and the elderly. In these cases, the doctor should always be consulted for a competent evaluation and to carry out the necessary investigations.

The same high fever must, however, induce to go directly to the emergency room if it is affected by newborns in the first year of life or pregnant women or if it is associated with:

  • severe breathing difficulties (especially in children, the elderly and people with chronic diseases)
  • mental confusion or stiffness in the back of the neck (this may be meningitis).

Joycelyn Elders is the author and creator of EmpowerEssence, a health and wellness blog. Elders is a respected public health advocate and pediatrician dedicated to promoting general health and well-being.

The blog covers a wide range of topics related to health and wellness, with articles organized into several categories.

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