Since we are in the winter season people are more likely to cough, sneeze, and have a blocked or runny nose. I figured I should give more information on how to care for yourself this winter with preventative measures so you don’t get sick with Influenza. Furthermore if sick, provide you with basic but effective home remedies to cure yourself.
What is Influenza
The influenza virus, also known as flu, is a common virus that affects the lungs, throat, and nose. It affects most people with weak immune systems such as children, pregnant women, people with chronic diseases, and elderly people. It is a seasonal virus that is mostly present in the winter(cold) season as it is also associated with the common cold virus.
The common cold virus is a virus that affects the throat, neck, and nose. It usually resolves within two weeks. Its symptoms include a runny nose, congestion, sneezing, and sometimes high fever.
I often hear people say they are sick with a fever when actually they are sick with the common cold or influenza virus. Fever is not a disease but a symptom of most diseases. Fever is a high temperature of over 37,3°C. It is one of the first signs that your body reveals to say that something is not well with it.
Symptoms of Influenza
• High fever
• Muscle aches
•Runny nose and congestion
How does it spread
Influenza is an airborne droplet respiratory disease meaning it spreads through droplets coming from the mouth and nose through coughing or sneezing.
It also spreads through saliva by kissing or sharing drinks.
Skin to skin contact can also spread it through sweat (hugging, handshakes and or cuddling skin to skin)
• Hand hygiene
It is very important to always wash your hands regularly. This prevents the virus from reaching inside your immune system.
• Use of the correct way to cough or sneeze
When coughing or sneezing you must use a tissue and discard it immediately. Don’t forget to wash your hands after.
You can use the bent elbow position. Whenever you sneeze or cough you bend your elbow and cough in it. This is more effective in preventing the spread of the flu because the virus is left in your clothes, away from your hands which can spread it in everything you touch.
Lastly, you can cover your mouth or nose with your clothes when coughing or sneezing. Easily pull whatever you are wearing over your mouth and nose; cough, or sneeze inside it. Also proven to be the most effective way to cough or sneeze.
• Eat Food high in Vitamin C
The other way to prevent yourself from getting flu is to boost your immune system by eating food high in vitamin C. Some of the food high in vitamin C include:- peppers, mango, oranges, strawberries, kiwifruit, cauliflower, and lemons, etc.
•Flu vaccine and Vitamin C supplements
In winter seasons it is important for one if they can, to get a flu injection as a preventive measure especially those at risk of getting the flu virus. Or to increase your vitamin C intake by taking vitamin C tablets to boost your immune system so it can fight the virus itself.
Treatment and home remedies
- Relief of cough and sore throat
•Buy a cough syrup at your nearest pharmacy or store because in a public hospital cough syrups are not issued.
• Make your own homemade cough syrup using the ingredients below. You can add your favorite rooibos tea. It is best to take this tea at night before sleeping, tea is soothing and can help with insomnia. This mixture with the effect of honey also relieves a sore throat.
2. Fever, headaches and muscle pains
You can take paracetamol to relieve fever and pains. It should be taken according to your age: adults 1 -2 tablets not more than 4 times a day. Children 1 tablet 3 times a day.
You can either rub your body muscles with Vicks vaporub( most effective vaporub I know in flu-related muscle pains), or you can put salt in lukewarm water, wet a facecloth in the water, and put in your sore muscles until the area is warm then slowly massage it. It will relax the muscles and provide relief.
A chill is that cold feeling usually on your back and it makes you shivery at times. You can rid chills by taking warm fluids regularly.
4. Runny nose and congestion
Home remedy to alleviate congestion is steam inhalation. Take hot water, add salt, and inhale the steam for 15 minutes. When the water is cooler or lukewarm, put a facecloth in the water and massage your sinuses with the wet lukewarm cloth. This will also help those battling with sinusitis.
Runny nose remedy is to use a handkerchief or a nonscented tissue when wiping your nose. This is because a scented tissue might provoke you to sneeze more.
It is important to note:
Influenza is short term virus that can resolve within a few days to two weeks. The body can fight it on its own depending on how strong your immunity is. But it is important to note it is dangerous especially to those with weak immune systems and underlying chronic diseases.
It is also important to take note of how long you have your symptoms because these symptoms are common symptoms of other dangerous conditions such as TB and Pneumonia. If you are coughing for more than two weeks with chest pains, go to your nearest clinic.
Danger signs to note in children related to influenza
Take your child to the nearest clinic or hospital if they show these symptoms:
•Body burning( heating) especially if the child is less than a year old. Wet facecloth in cold water and put in the child’s skin all over the body to decrease the body’s high temperature while waiting to go to the hospital or clinic.
• Chest indrawings– when your child is breathing hard and their chest is drawn heavily in an inward motion with every breath.
•Fast and difficulty breathing– this might be a sign of pneumonia, not Influenza. You can count the child’s breathing rate by calculating how many times they breathe in 60 seconds. Fast breathing in less than a year old is over 50 breaths per minute. In less than 5 years old children it is over 35 breaths per minute.
Difficulty breathing signs in babies include grunting, wheezing, and cyanosis(babies skin turning blue).
•Lethargic– Influenza might lead to a child being weak and tired, but take note when they become lethargic(lacking energy or awareness) especially babies under a year old.
Stay hydrated, hygienic, and warm.❤