There is more than just one influenza virus. There are actually a number of different influenza viruses and they all have the ability to mutate or change. Sometimes they change slowly over time (this is referred to as drift), but sometimes they change suddenly (this is referred to as shift). The symptoms of influenza are usually more severe when a virus has made a sudden shift. Experts say that these shifts occur about every ten years and are the major causes of pandemics or world-wide epidemics.
When creating the annual flu shot vaccine, scientists evaluate the different viruses in circulation and select an influenza virus or two or three that are likely to cause people the most severe illnesses. An inactivated form of the selected viruses, or in the case of the nasal spray a weakened live virus, are used for that years vaccine. Because the viruses change slightly every year, in order to have full immunity from them, those who are at greatest risk of exposure or complications are advised to take the vaccine every year. Minor symptoms of influenza often follow a flu shot and taking the vaccine does not guarantee that a person will not become infected with an influenza virus different from the ones included in that years vaccine. Some controversy surrounds the idea that everyone should get a flu shot every year, but the Center for Disease Control and Prevention still advises that it is the best known way to protect yourself from the flu.
The symptoms of influenza usually come on suddenly and begin with a fever that can reach 106 degrees farenheit. Headache, body aches, chills and pain when you move your eyes typically accompany the fever. Days later as these symptoms improve, you may have a cough, runny nose or sore throat. It is not uncommon for adults to have relatively high fevers for three or four days, but infants and children may need medical attention for any high fevers. When in doubt, call the doctor.
The influenza virus does not cause symptoms in all people and does not affect all people the same way. It is believed that those with a weaker immune system are likely to have more severe symptoms, than those who are in better health or have a stronger immune system. The biggest threat posed by the influenza virus is the risk of developing complications, particularly pneumonia. Pneumonia can be a real problem for the elderly, the very young and anyone who has chronic health problems.
It is important to remember that the symptoms of influenza are similar to other diseases, some minor, like the common cold and some more serious like mononucleosis and even meningitis. When an influenza virus leads to a bacterial infection, antibiotics are usually effective, but a common case of the flu will not respond to antibiotics. These drugs kill bacteria, but not viruses. If your symptoms seem to get better and then worse again, if you have a stiff neck or severe headache, you need to contact your doctor.
It is important to watch for symptoms of Reye's syndrome in children. This can be a life threatening condition. It is rare, but when it does occur it usually follows an infection with the influenza virus, chicken pox or another viral infection. If drowsiness and confusion develop three to seven days after the symptoms of influenza began, then medical attention is needed. Aspirin is believed to increase the risk of developing Reye's syndrome and should not be given to children with cold, symptoms of influenza or other viral infections.
To learn about a natural product that can be taken safely by adults and older children to reduce the duration of the symptoms of influenza and as a maintenance supplement to reduce the likelihood of becoming infected with an influenza virus , visit the Immune System Booster Guide .
Patsy Hamilton has more than twenty years experienc in healthcare and currently writes informational articles for the Immune System Booster Guide. Visit us at http://www.immune-system-booster-guide.com .