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General Practice 2023

Flu A: symptoms, treatment and when to get the vaccine

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Flu A: symptoms, treatment and when to get the vaccine
Flu A: symptoms, treatment and when to get the vaccine

Influenza A is one of the main types of flu, which appears every year, most often in winter. This flu can be caused by two variants of the Influenza A virus, the H1N1 or the H3N2, but both generate similar symptoms and are also treated equally.

Influenza A tends to evolve in a very aggressive way if it is not treated properly, so it is very important to consult a doctor if you suspect that you have influenza A, as otherwise it can cause more serious complications, such as respiratory distress syndrome, pneumonia, respiratory failure or even death.

The treatment of influenza A is usually done with the use of antiviral drugs, to help the body fight the virus, but rest and adequate water intake are also advised, as well as the use of other medicines for relieve symptoms.


Main symptoms

The main symptoms of influenza A are:

  • Fever above 38 ÂșC that appears suddenly;
  • Body aches;
  • Sore throat;
  • Headache;
  • Cough;
  • Sneezing;
  • Chills;
  • Shortness of breath;
  • Fatigue or tiredness.

In addition to these symptoms and constant discomfort, diarrhea and some vomiting can also occur, especially in children, which eventually go away.

How to know if it is influenza A?

Although the symptoms of influenza A are very similar to those of the common flu, they tend to be more aggressive and intense, often forcing you to stay in bed and rest for a few days, and often their appearance does not have any warning, appearing almost suddenly.

Furthermore, influenza A is highly contagious, making it very easy to spread it to other people you have been in contact with. If there is any suspicion of this flu, it is recommended that you wear a mask and go to the doctor, so that the tests that confirm the presence of the virus can be carried out.

What is the difference between H1N1 and H3N2?

The main difference between influenza caused by H1N1 and H3N2 is the virus itself that causes the infection, however, the symptoms, treatment and the way of transmission are similar. These two types of viruses are present in the flu vaccine, along with Influenza B, and therefore, those who are vaccinated against the flu every year are protected against these viruses.

However, the H3N2 virus is often confused with the H2N3, another type of virus that does not affect humans, being transmitted only between animals. In fact, there is no vaccine or treatment against the H2N3 virus, but only because this virus does not affect humans.

How the treatment is done

Treatment for Influenza A is done with antiviral drugs such as Oseltamivir or Zanamivir and generally the treatment has better results if it is started as soon as the first 48 hours after the first symptoms appear. In addition, the doctor may also recommend medication to relieve symptoms such as Paracetamol or Tylenol, Ibuprofen, Benegripe, Apracur or Bisolvon, for example, which relieve symptoms such as fever, sore throat, cough or muscle pain.

To complement the treatment, in addition to medication, it is also recommended to rest and maintain hydration by drinking lots of water, it is not recommended to go to work, go to school or go to places with many people while you have the flu. The treatment can also be complemented with natural remedies, such as ginger syrup, for example, which has analgesic, anti-inflammatory and expectorant properties, being great for flu. Here's how to prepare ginger syrup.

In addition, to prevent influenza A and its possible complications, the influenza vaccine is available, which helps protect the body against the main types of viruses that cause influenza.

In cases where the person does not improve with the treatment and ends up evolving with complications, such as severe shortness of breath or pneumonia, it may be necessary to stay in hospital and in respiratory isolation, to take medication in the vein and make nebulizations with medications, and may even require orotracheal intubation, to relieve respiratory distress and treat the flu.

When to get the flu shot

To avoid getting influenza A, the influenza vaccine is available that protects the body against the most common influenza viruses, such as H1N1, H3N2 and Influenza B. This vaccine is especially suitable for some risk groups who are more likely to contract the flu, namely:

  • Older people over 65 years old;
  • People who have a compromised immune system, such as those with AIDS or myasthenia gravis;
  • Carriers of chronic diseases, such as diabetics, patients with liver, heart or asthma, for example;
  • Children under 2 years of age;
  • Pregnant women, as they cannot take medication.

Ideally, the vaccine should be given every year to ensure effective protection, as new mutations of the flu virus appear every year.

How to avoid getting the flu A

To avoid catching influenza A, there are some measures that can help prevent contagion, being recommended to avoid staying in closed places or with many people, wash your hands regularly, always cover your nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing and avoid contact with people who have flu symptoms.

The main form of contagion of influenza A is through the respiratory route, where it is only necessary to breathe droplets that contain the H1N1 or H3N2 virus, to run the risk of getting this flu.

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