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Causes of Influenza

Explore the world of influenza by uncovering its underlying causes, symptoms, and the importance of vaccination in this informative article.

  • 09 Oct 2023
  • 3 min read
  • 42 views

During the colder months, many of us find ourselves dealing with the unpleasant side effects of influenza, or “the flu.” Highly contagious and sometimes dangerous for those whose immune systems are already compromised, influenza affects people all over the world. It is important that we understand what causes it in order to minimise our risk and protect ourselves and our families from becoming sick. In this article, we will discuss some common causes of influenza as well as some measures you can take against this illness.

 

How is Influenza Caused?

Influenza is caused by different types of viruses, which are classified into four distinct types: influenza A, B, C, and D. This is can be caused by several ways including the following:

  • The transmission of influenza typically happens through person-to-person contact, predominantly via respiratory droplets produced when individuals infected with the flu sneeze, cough, or engage in conversation. The airborne droplets have the potential to infect others within a radius of approximately 6 feet.
  • Although less frequent, an alternative route of transmission involves indirect contact, where the flu virus lingers on objects or surfaces. If an individual touches a contaminated surface and subsequently makes contact with their mouth, nose, or eyes, they may become infected.

Even before symptoms could typically manifest, most healthy adults can transmit the virus to others. The timeline is up to seven days post-onset of symptoms. Individuals with weakened immune systems or children may remain contagious for an even longer duration. Typically, flu symptoms commence approximately two days after the virus gains entry into the body.

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The following are some of the major risk factors of the flu.

  • Adults aged 65 and older: Advanced age is associated with a greater susceptibility to flu.
  • Pregnant individuals: Pregnancy can weaken the immune system, making pregnant women more vulnerable to flu-related complications.
  • People with underlying health conditions: Individuals already affected with conditions such as asthma, cancer, HIV/AIDS, and specific disabilities are at an elevated risk of experiencing severe flu symptoms.
  • People with cardiovascular diseases: Heart disease, diabetes, chronic kidney disease, and a history of stroke increase the likelihood of severe flu complications.

 

To minimise the risk of getting the flu and managing its symptoms, consider the following suggestions:

  • Social Distancing: The flu spreads through respiratory droplets. Maintain physical distance from others, particularly during peak flu season, and avoid close contact with sick individuals.
  • Hand Hygiene: The virus can transfer from surfaces to your hands and face. Regularly wash your hands for 15-20 seconds with soap and water, especially during flu season. Hand sanitisers are a suitable alternative when soap and water are unavailable.
  • Avoid Handshakes: Refrain from handshakes, especially with sick individuals. Handshakes can be a source of transmission, especially in winter when flu is prevalent.

 

Conclusion

In conclusion, understanding the causes of influenza and transmission of influenza is vital in taking appropriate precautions to mitigate its impact. Influenza, caused by dynamic influenza viruses, can rapidly evolve, posing a continuous threat. Flu primarily spreads through respiratory droplets, with indirect contact also a potential means of transmission. Certain demographics, including the elderly, pregnant individuals, those with underlying health conditions, and those with cardiovascular diseases, face increased risks from the flu. By actively adopting safeguarding strategies, we can collectively reduce the risk of flu transmission and its associated complications. Also, ensure that you have a health insurance plan in place to safeguard yourself against any financial stress. 

Disclaimer: The above blog aims to provide general information about health and related topics. Any information provided in this blog, website or in any linked materials is not intended and should not be considered, or used as a substitute for any medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It is important that you contact your Doctor before starting a new medicine or health regime.
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