Almost all of us have contacted flu once or more within our lifetime. Influenza is a respiratory viral disease which may seem harmless but is actually one of the leading causes of additional costs and work and school absenteeism. A recent report has shown that ginseng may actually help prevent influenza and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) infections.
What is Flu?
Flu is a type of viral infection can is infectious and contagious. It can be spread by droplets transmitted through the air through coughs and sneezes. Flu is different from the common cold in that it can lead to more severe symptoms and can last longer. This type of viral infection is common during winter although it may be prevalent all year round. When it happens during winter, it is known as seasonal flu.
Flu can cause uncomfortable symptoms such as fever, body aches and pains, tiredness and sore throat. Nausea and vomiting may also ensue, as well as loss of appetite and cough. These symptoms can make you feel so unwell that you have to stay in bed until you get better. Flu should not cause you to visit your doctor; however you should take precautions against dehydration by drinking adequate amounts of water. Anti-pyretics may also be needed to relieve high temperature and fever. Those people who should see their doctor while having flu include those who are over 65 years of age, those who are pregnant, those who have co-morbid medical conditions such as lung disease, heart disease, kidney disease or diabetes, and those who have weakened immune systems. In these cases, the doctor may prescribe antiviral medications.
Flu symptoms usually start within a few days after infection. Symptoms may increase and peak after two to three days and may wane after a week or more. This depends on the general health of the patient. From the start of infection until about five or six days, patients may be infections and may spread the infection to other contacts. Children and persons with weakened immune systems often have longer bouts of the illness so that they also remain infections for longer periods of time. In these people, complications may also result such as pneumonias.
Flu viruses are usually spread from person to person by coughing or sneezing into the air by an infected person. The droplets can travel within a meter or so and can create illness in persons who breathe them. Flu can also spread when a person touches the hands of an infected person or when a person touches the things that an infected person has touched such as door handles and hard surfaces. This is why to prevent infections you must constantly wash your hands with soap and water. You should also clean regularly surfaces which can come in contact with the hands of an infected person. Used tissues must be discarded to the waste can as soon as possible. Infected people should stay indoors and never go to work or to school so prevent them from infecting others.
A flu vaccine is usually needed by children, pregnant mothers, those with serious medical infections, health care personnel, caregivers, people living in nursing homes and adults aged 65 or older. The flu vaccine may offer some protection however it cannot totally prevent you from having other strains of the virus.
Ginseng and Flu
A recent study has shown that ginseng can help treat influenza and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), a respiratory virus that infects the lungs and breathing passages. This study, done by a researcher from Georgia State University’s new Institute for Biomedical Sciences, focused on the benefits of ginseng on various health ailments. In this study, the researcher investigated whether red ginseng extract has preventive effects on influenza A virus infection. The results of this study soon showed that red ginseng extract improves the survival of human lung epithelial cells infected with influenza virus. Also, treatment with red ginseng extract reduced the expression of genes that cause inflammation. This is why the researcher has recommended the use of ginseng for flu and RSV infections.
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