Influenza | Symptoms, Treatment and Complications

Influenza | Symptoms and Preventive measures:

Introduction:

Influenza (commonly called the flu) is a highly contagious illness that can occur in children or adults of any age. It occur more often in the winter months because people spend more time in close contact with one another. The flu is spread easily from person to person by coughing, sneezing, or touching surfaces.

Severe illness is more likely in the very young, older adults, pregnant women, and people who have certain health problems such as asthma or other forms of lung disease. There have been several widespread flu outbreaks (called pandemics), which led to the deaths of many people worldwide.

These outbreaks occurred when new strains of influenza viruses formed (often from pigs or birds) and humans became infected because they had no immunity to these viruses.

Symptoms:

Symptoms of seasonal flu can vary from person to person, but usually include:

  • Fever and extreme coldness (chills shivering, shaking,(rigor))
  • Cough
  • Nasal congestion
  • Body ache, especially joints and throat
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Irritated, watering eyes
  • Reddened eyes, skin (especially face), mouth, throat and nose
  • Petechial Rash
  • In children, gastrointestinal symptoms such as diarrhea and abdominal pain(may be severe with influenza B).

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Treatment:

  1. People with the flu are advised to get plenty of rest, drink plenty of liquids
  2. Tell the patient to avoid using alcohol and tobacco and, if necessary, take medications such as acetaminophen (paracetamol) to relieve the fever and muscle aches associated with the flu.
  3. Children and teenagers with flu symptoms (particularly fever) should avoid taking aspirin during an influenza infection (especially influenza type B), because doing so can lead to Reye’s syndrome, a rare but potentially fatal disease of the liver
  4. Since influenza is caused by a virus, antibiotics have no effect on the infection unless prescribed for secondary infections such as bacterial pneumonia. Antiviral medication can be effective, but some strains of influenza can show resistance to the standard antiviral drugs.

 Complications of Influenza:

High-risk children and adults may develop complications such as:

  • Pneumonia
  • Bronchitis
  • Sinus infections
  • Ear infections

Pneumonia is the most common and most serious. For older adults and people with a chronic illness, pneumonia can be deadly. The best protection is vaccination against both pneumococcal pneumonia and influenza.

 Nursing Intervention

  • Administer analgesics, antipyretics, and decongestants, as ordered
  • Follow droplet and standard precautions
  • Provide cool, humidified air but change the water daily to prevent pseudomonas super infection
  • Encourage the patient to rest in bed and drink plenty of fluids.
  • Administer I.V. fluids as ordered.
  • Administer oxygen therapy if warranted.
  • Regularly monitor the patient’s vital signs, including his temperature
  • Monitor the patient’s fluid intake and output for signs of dehydration.
  • Watch for signs and symptoms of developing pneumonia.
  • Advise the patient to use mouthwash or warm saline gargles to ease sore throat.
  • Teach the patient the importance of increasing fluid intake to prevent dehydration.
  • Suggest a warm bath or heating pad to relieve Myalgia.
  • Review prevention of future influenza episodes with patient and the community

 

Prevention:

Controlling the spread of infection:

  • Vaccination: The vaccine is typically available as an injection or as a nasal spray. The influenza vaccine isn’t 100 percent effective, so it’s also important to take measures to reduce the spread of infection:
  • Wash hands: Thorough and frequent hand- washing is the best way to prevent many common infections. Scrub hands vigorously for at least 15 seconds. Or use alcohol-based hand sanitizers if soap and water aren’t readily available.
  • Contain coughs and sneezes: Cover mouth and nose while sneezing or coughing.

Avoid crowds: Flu spreads easily wherever people congregate-in child care centers, schools, office buildings, auditoriums and public transportation. By avoiding crowds during peak flu season can reduce chances of infection

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