10/16/2008

Flu: Sneeze & Wheeze

Seeing that many people are having flu right now (with the insanely hot sun & heavy rains, who wouldn't be, eh?), I think it would be interesting to know more about the flu, or its full name, influenza. It's a pretty common ailment but how much do we know about it, really? Read through to find out :p

Briefly...
  • Influenza is caused by a virus that attacks the upper respiratory tract (nose, throat, bronchi, sometimes even the lungs).
  • Infection usually lasts for a week.
  • Symptoms: headache, fever, non-productive (dry) cough, sore throat, rhinitis, myalgia, severe malaise.
  • Usually recovery will take 2 weeks. However this is serious in the very young, the elderly & those with medical conditions like lung diseases, diabetes, cancert, kidney &/heart problems.
  • Influenza epidemics is one of the most widespread on Earth & cause significant economic drawbacks (hospital & other healthcare costs, loss of production)
  • Annually 5-15% of the population are affected by this disease. In tropical countries, this frequency is higher. 

The Virus
  • There are 2 groups of the currently circulating influenza viruses in humans: A & B
  • Group A has 2 subtypes: A(H3N2) & A(H1N1), the former is associated with most deaths.
  • The virus is identified by 2 different antigens (proten components on the surface of the virus): haemagglutinin (H) & neuraminidase (N) - now you know where the H & C come from
  • The genetic makeup allows frequent minor genetic changes (antigenic shifts/mutations): requires annual reformulation of influenza vaccines.

The H5N1 strain
Transmission
  • Easily passed from person to person via droplets/small particles excreted when infected individuals cough/sneeze (through air).
  • The virus enters the body through the nose/throat.
  • Symptoms develop within 1-4 days.
  • Heightened infection frequency in crowded environments, cold & dry weather.
Prevention: Vaccination
  • Contain trace levels of egg protein: cannot be used by individuals allergic to egg proteins
  • Effectiveness depends on: age; immunocompetence of the vaccine recipient; the degree of similarity between the viruses in the vaccine & those in circulation.
Treatment: Antiviral drugs (amantadine & rimantadine)

Needles can help you...
Definitely not a disease to take lightly. Always drink enough glasses of water per day, plus eat healthy food. It's easy to take things for granted when we're hale & healthy, but we do need to be cautious to be in the best of health :)

2 comments:

SuNiLsHaNaZ said...

wow...great work jo ann. u kinda add new articles daily eh?? =) i just visited ur blog yesterday..N today i found another 2 new articles..
but i'll try to catch up...huhu
anyhow, continue blogging ya!

drakl0r said...

Lol i just recovered from a flu last week... I like ur blog..very informative and updated frequently. Actually i also have one, only started blogging 2 weeks ago lol.