You know it is that time of year again when your work colleagues and friends might vanish for a few days only discover they have all came down with the same virus – leading you to find yourself with the inevitable symptoms appearing one by one. Influenza or “the flu” as it is commonly known, effects people from all around the world often during winter or in the case of some equatorial countries, year round. The flu has had a long history in society and culture and can lead to high costs both directly and indirectly in lost productivity and medical treatment.
The flu has seen a number of pandemics throughout history from the Spanish Flu in 1918 which resulted in the death of approximately three to five percent of the global population to the more recent “Swine Flu” outbreak of 2009 – 2010. Most cases of the flu are nothing more than an uncomfortable three to five days with some symptoms lasting a little longer into the two week mark. If you have yourself questioning whether you might have the flu, these symptoms are often the calling cards of a disease which is as old as civilization.
The hallmark of the flu is often the uncomfortable fever that accompanies the disease. A clear sign differentiating the flu from the common cold, the fever is noticeable when one’s body temperature rises above the normal range. Fevers is caused when the temperature set-point increases the due to muscle contraction resulting in a cooling effect throughout the body, in order to counteract the cold the body produces greater heat and efforts to maintain warmth. This then results in the set-point returning to normal levels however the affected person is left feeling hot, flushed and rather uncomfortable.
While treatment of fever is not necessary, anti-inflammatory medication can help the affected person feel more comfortable and rest a little easier.