Influenza commonly called flu is an infection that attacks the respiratory system – throat, nose, and lungs. It is caused by the flu virus, and it is highly contagious normally spread through sneezes and coughs of an infected person. An individual can also catch flu through shaking hands with an infected person.
World Health Organization reports that as many as 650, 000 people die annually from respiratory problems and it warns governments to concentrate more on these ailments that are often ignored. Kenya is among nations where respiratory diseases are a major burden to the population. Approximately 1 out of 10 people die from respiratory complications in Kenya.
Common symptoms of flu include sore throat, headache, severe discomfort, muscle aches, high fever, and dry cough. People at higher risk of developing flu-related complications include;
- Adults aged 65 and above
- Young children age 5 and below particularly those below 2 years
- Residents of long-term care facilities or nursing homes
- Individuals with weak immune systems
- Pregnant women
- Individuals with chronic diseases such as heart disease, asthma, liver diseases, kidney disease, and diabetes
- Obese people who have body mass index (BMI) of 40 or more
- Feeling fatigued and exhausted
There may be gastrointestinal symptoms such as diarrhea, vomiting, and nausea which are common in children than grownups. The symptoms may continue for up to 1 week. It is important to note that not all people who catch flu show all the signs mentioned. For example, a person may have flu but fail to develop a fever.
As mentioned, flu is caused by a virus which means antibiotics cannot be of help except when the flu has led to another disease caused by bacteria.
The common antivirals used to treat flu in Kenya are oseltamivir (Tamiflu) and zanamivir (Relenza). As of May 2019, Tamiflu 75mg tablets pack of 10 (full dose) retails for KSH. 5,593.00. A cheaper dose of flu available in Kenya is Beechams Cold and Flu Hot Lemon 10’s which retails for KSH.670.00.
Pain Relief Medication
Pain relievers usually help to eliminate some of the symptoms such as body pains, headaches, fatigue, and discomfort. Many painkillers exist in Kenya including Panadol, Mara Moja, and many more but it is advised to take them under the recommendation of a medical professional. Note that painkillers such as aspirin are not good for children aged 11 and below.
Individuals with flu need to:
- Stay at home
- Keep warm and rest
- Avoid contact with other individuals where possible
- Consume plenty of liquids
- Eat if possible
- Stop smoking
- Avoid alcohol
If you live alone, it is advisable to inform a nearby relative or neighbor that you have flu so that they can check in on you.
When to See a Doctor
- Make sure to see a doctor if:
- Your temperature remains high after 4 to 5 days
- The symptoms get worse
- You feel seriously ill
- You are frail or an elderly person
- You become short of breath or develop chest pain or both