The flu is the commonly used name for a virus called influenza. The influenza virus has affected the human population for thousands of years. Flu season peaks in the winter months, which means there are separate flu seasons for the northern and southern hemispheres. Typically, the flu causes symptoms two days after exposure to the virus, and the symptoms last about a week.
The Flu Throughout History
As many as 2,400 years ago, symptoms of influenza were described in the writings of ancient Greece. During the 1500s, a particularly deadly case of the flu struck Rome, killing over 8,000 people. Flu pandemics continued during the 17th and 18th centuries, and a period between 1830 and 1833 saw the infection of nearly one-quarter of the population. In 1918, a particular strain of the flu known as “Spanish fever” killed between 50 and 100 million people. The strain of flu that caused the Spanish fever was H1N1, the same strain that caused a worldwide flu epidemic in 2009.
Strains of Influenza
Currently, there are four known types of flu: Type A, Type B, Type C, and Type D, although type D is not known to infect humans. Influenza type A is the most common, and variations of this flu virus have been known to affect other species, such as the H5N1 variation also known as the Bird Flu. Type B is less common, but much more severe while type C is the least common and also the least severe. Although the strength of the flu virus changes, symptoms are similar for each influenza type.
Treating The Flu Virus
While the best way to treat the flu virus is prevention with the flu vaccination, once the flu sets in, the primary treatments focus on managing the symptoms. People who have the flu are advised to rest, drink plenty of fluids, and to take anti-inflammatory drugs for fever and pain. Because the flu is a virus, antibiotics have no effect; antiviral drugs are sometimes prescribed by doctors, but they are not always effective in reducing the duration of the flu.
Testing for the flu is quick and painless. If you think you or your child may have contracted the flu, contact Pediatric Urgent Care of Northern Colorado today!