The Tummy flu symptoms shouldn’t be confused with the ordinary cold, which is another respiratory illness. A cold usually doesn’t cause high fever, muscle pains or stomach symptoms.
The incubation period of the flu can vary from a few days to a week. During this “asymptomatic period”, the infected person is already a carrier of the disease and is therefore highly contagious. The flu can last from a few days to less than two weeks. However, in certain cases, complications can develop which are potentially life-threatening. Some of these complications are bronchitis, pneumonia, sinusitis, and ear infections. Anybody can get the flu but those who are highly susceptible to the flu are young children, the elderly and those with existing chronic health conditions and weakened immune systems.
Flu is very contagious. Direct transmission occurs from person to person via droplets that are released when a person coughs or sneezes. Indirect transmission happens when droplets from an infected person are transferred to inanimate objects, which are then touched by another person.
Flu-like symptoms can also occur with many other diseases. It is therefore sometimes difficult for doctors to diagnose the illness. There are many laboratory tests which can confirm whether a person has the flu or not but they cost money and time and are therefore impractical. However, in times of outbreaks and epidemics, it is important to perform tests. Usually, flu cases are diagnosed based on tests performed in a few individuals within a group. If one or two persons test positive for the flu in a closed environment, then the likelihood of subsequent illnesses within the group as being flu is rather high. Samples for flu testing are usually secretions from the nose and the throat, collected either by sterile swab, nasal wash, or aspiration. There are rapid influenza tests which can give results in 30 minutes. The tests are 70% sensitive in detecting the flu and are prone to false negatives. Another alternative is the more reliable but time consuming viral culture which takes about 3 to 10 days.
Several antiviral pharmacological agents have been approved for the treatment of the flu. Because of the seasonal changes in the types and strains of influenza viruses the recommended anti-flu drugs may change. This season, Tamiflu is the choice for treatment and chemoprophylaxis of persons aged 1 year and older and Relenza is approved for treatment of persons aged 7 years and older. Currently, the CDC discourages the use of previously used anti-flu drugs such as Amantadine and Rimantadine because the current circulating strains of flu viruses are resistant to these drugs.
The ultimate preventive measure against the flu is vaccination. However, again due to the constantly changing nature of the influenza viruses, flu vaccines do not afford 100% and lifetime immunity against the flu. Each season, flu vaccines are updated by adding strains collected and identified from the previous season. Flu vaccines contain different strains of the influenza types A and B but not type C.