Influenza

In our last post, we discussed the common cold, which we think is the culprit for laying up Mr. Family Trivium for a couple of days last week. How can we be sure that it was just a cold and not, say, the flu?

What
Turnig again to the Mayo Clinic, we find the flu, more properly influenza, defined:

Influenza is a viral infection that attacks your respiratory system — your nose, throat and lungs. Influenza, commonly called the flu, is not the same as the stomach “flu” viruses that cause diarrhea and vomiting.

The Mayo Clinic notes that, at first, it may be difficult to distinguish the cold from the flu:

Initially, the flu may seem like a common cold with a runny nose, sneezing and sore throat. But colds usually develop slowly, whereas the flu tends to come on suddenly. And although a cold can be a nuisance, you usually feel much worse with the flu.

Among their symptoms, both include the following:

  • Body aches
  • Headache
  • Cough
  • Fatigue
  • Congestion
  • Possibly, a fever

The flu adds chills and sweats. The cold adds a runny nose, a sore throat, sneezing, and watery eyes.

Why
Why is it that with other viruses, you are immune once you’ve had them or have been vaccinated against them, but not with the flu? Why do you still get the flu even if you’ve been vaccinated against it?

The Mayo Clinic indicates, flu viruses are constantly evolving, with new strains appearing regularly. You’re body only builds up immunity to strains to which it has been exposed. The flu shot may not include the strains which end up spreading during the particular “flu season” which it is supposed to cover.

How
How does the flu virus spread? Much like the common cold – as reported by the Mayo Clinic, the flu spreads through the  air, in droplets, when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks. Others may directly inhale these droplets, or be exposed to the virus if they touch their eyes, nose, or mouth after touching a surface upon which virus carrying droplets have landed. I.e. door knobs, telephones, drinking fountain handles, keyboards, etc.

Based on a few facts, we are assuming that this illness, which as of yesterday still seems to be working its way through the Family Trivium household, is the common cold and not the flu.

  •  Only upper respiratory system seemed to be affected.
  • Symptoms include sneezing, but not chills and sweats.
  • The duration of the symptoms lasts between 24 and 48 hours.
  • Two of the members of our household who have experienced, or are currently experiencing, this illness have been getting annual flu vaccinations while Mr. Family Trivium has not. As mentioned above, there is the possibility that we could be exposed to a strain of the virus not included in flu vaccinations

As we mentioned, this bug is still working its way through our house, but we will try to avoid another hiatus.

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