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Seasonal flu: prevention and recommendations

According to the National Institute for Prevention and Health Education, 2.5 million people are affected each year by seasonal flu. This contagious viral disease presents many symptoms: high fever, headaches, body aches. The flu is usually the most severe form from late December until February. The ideal is to put all the chances on your side and protect yourself against the flu virus. Discover our tips and recommendations for preventing and treating seasonal flu.

Definition of influenza

The ANSM (National Agency for the Safety of Medicines and Health Products) defines seasonal influenza:

The flu is an acute respiratory infection caused by an Influenza virus. This contagious disease is transmitted by air, by close contact with a sick person, or by contact with contaminated hands or objects.

The Influenza virus evolves each year according to its mutations, reassortments, and genetic exchanges between strains. Due to this significant instability and the constant evolution of the virus, the influenza virus strains used for vaccination are not the same from year to year. There are three types of influenza viruses: type A, B, and C viruses. It is the A and B viruses that are responsible for seasonal influenza epidemics. Type A virus is the most virulent form; the type B virus is the most common form. As a result, they are part of the composition of influenza vaccines formulated each year.

Influenza and influenza-like illness

Influenza should not be confused with the flu-like condition or flu-like syndrome,” which is caused by other respiratory viruses (para-influenza virus, adenovirus, rhinovirus, coronavirus, and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV)). If they have similar symptoms, they are usually less intense and come on gradually. But that shouldn’t stop you from seeking the advice of a healthcare professional. The duration of the flu-like state varies from 4 to 7 days after the appearance of the first signs. Likewise, flu and cold should not be confused, respiratory tract infections caused by viruses but with different symptoms.

Two to three days after becoming infected with the Influenza virus or influenza virus, the person may have:

  • high fever (39-40 ° C)

  • chills

  • headaches

  • body aches

  • a dry cough

  • generalized fatigue.

The typical cold results in:

  • an infrequent or moderate fever

  • infrequent headaches

  • mild aches and pains

  • slight fatigue

  • nasal congestion and sneezing

  • a sore throat and cough.

What about stomach flu?

Finally, seasonal flu and stomach flu are also very different illnesses. The stomach flu is better known as viral gastroenteritis. The flu shot does not protect against stomach flu.

Seasonal flu hazards

Although widespread, seasonal flu should not be taken lightly. This viral disease can be very trying and dangerous for frail people, asthmatics, pregnant women, and the elderly. It can cause severe complications, including acute bronchitis and the onset of breathing difficulties due to a lung infection or pneumonia. The flu is responsible for 2,000 to 9,000 deaths each year. In 2017, according to the ANSP (National Public Health Agency), people aged 65 and over accounted for the majority of hospitalizations for influenza.

Preventive hygiene measures

Prevention remains one of the best solutions to escape the seasonal flu. Hygiene practices, vaccination, homeopathy, supplements to boost the immune system, or the use of nasal sprays can be effective preventive measures.

Respiratory viruses spread very quickly in the atmosphere, making the flu very contagious. A person infected with the Influenza virus can be contagious 24 hours before showing symptoms and seven days after the onset of symptoms (or up to 14 days for young children and the elderly). Certain precautions and simple barrier gestures make it possible to limit the risk of transmission or to avoid contamination. Hand washing soap or using hydro-alcoholic gels several times a day is necessary. Sneezing or coughing in the crook of the arm, using disposable handkerchiefs, limiting contact are also preventive and straightforward hygiene measures. INPES offers educational video modules on its website that describe how to implement barrier actions.

The influenza vaccine

An influenza vaccine is available each year. For the 2021-2022 vaccination campaign, four influenza vaccines are available and covered by Health Insurance: InfluvacTetra, VaxigripTetra, FluarixTetra, and Influvac. The campaign begins on October 6, 2021, and will run until January 31, 2022, in the northern hemisphere, mainland France, Martinique, Guadeloupe, and Guyana. Health insurance invites the millions of French people considered particularly at-risk” to benefit from the vaccine free of charge. You will find other information on the 2021-2022 vaccination campaign on the website of the Health Insurance, which supports the vaccination campaigns.

The homeopathic medicine Influenzinum

Also, note that homeopathic medicine is made each year with the new Influenza strain: Homéomunyl Influenzinum 9 CH. This homeopathic preventive treatment which is not a vaccine is interesting for those who do not want to be vaccinated by injection. It is obtained by diluting and then energizing the strain of the influenza vaccine for the current year. Homeomunyl from the Boiron laboratory is sold in four doses of influencing 9 CH on our e-pharmacy. More economical, it covers several weeks of treatment for the winter. It can be taken both in prevention and curative. Do not hesitate to consult your doctor for more information on the dosage and duration of treatment.

Boost your immune system

In addition to vaccination or taking homeopathic treatments, your pharmacist could potentially advise you to boost the body’s immune defenses.

Taking care of your immune system means limiting stress, focusing on well-being, and eating a balanced diet. Healthy and diverse food will provide the body with the nutrients it needs to function correctly. 

The following compounds could potentially be recommended to you by your pharmacist, whether they come from your diet or food supplements:

  • Vitamins: Vitamins C and D are known to help maintain the immune system and the production of T lymphocytes. Indeed, a less powerful immune system favors the appearance of viruses and slows down healing. The immune system allows the body to defend itself. T cells attack and destroy pathogens.

  • Royal jelly: a concentrate of trace elements, vitamins, and amino acids, royal jelly is a flagship product of apitherapy (treating yourself with bee products). It is known for its properties on the immune system to restore energy. Vitamins and royal jelly are often used in nutritherapy (medicine which consists of providing the body with all the adequate nutrients to function optimally). They can be taken in the form of food supplements.

Innovative products understudy

Certain innovative products, presented as effective in protecting against the various influenza viruses, are under study. The nasal spray to llama antibodies, for example, is a solution that could fight sixty strains of the flu virus. It is not yet available on the market. Remember that the nose is often the target of infections, including the Influenza virus. In addition, the nasal mucous membranes have natural defences that can be vulnerable to attacks from viruses. Using a nose spray helps maintain hydration and install a protective film.”

Recovering from the flu

The seasonal flu is often trying and, depending on the intensity of the symptoms, prevents the patient from continuing his activities. But how long does the seasonal flu last? In non-compromised subjects, recovery is complete after 1 to 2 weeks. If flu symptoms persist or more appear, do not hesitate to see your doctor.

Even if the virus has been destroyed, fatigue can last for several weeks. The lack of tone and strength, sometimes accompanied by stiffness, is felt. Rest is essential for the body to rebuild its defences after the virus has passed. A 5-day break is usually sufficient. Also, remember to drink plenty of water and herbal teas to flush out toxins.

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