March 2017 Nurse’s Blog

March 2017 Nurse’s Blog

Think of how many times in the past month you have heard someone say that they have a cold, a virus or a flu? You might not realize that colds, flus or influenzas, are all viruses!

A virus is an infectious organism that invade cells of all forms of life. Viruses are parasites, they cannot grow or reproduce unless they invade a living cell. The severity of the illness, depends on the bodies response to the invasion. Viruses reproduce very quickly once they invade, so the onset can seem sudden and acute. Different viruses affect different tissues in our body in unique ways which produce various illnesses. The common cold,
influenza or flu, mumps, rabies, polio, HIV and rabies are just a few types of viral infections.

A cold or common cold is an infection of the respiratory tract by any of hundreds of different viruses. The infection causes irritation of the mucus membranes lining the nose and throat. This results in congestion and pain with a nasal discharge, causing sneezing, coughing, a fever, headache and mild fatigue. It can last 7 to 14 days. The best treatment is not antibiotics but rest, increased fluids, non-aspirin fever reducers, gargling with warm salt water or soothing mouth wash and decongestants. If a fever lasts more than 3 days or is above 102 degrees F, an earache occurs or you develop chest pain, shortness of breath and coughing or the symptoms continue over 10 days, call your doctor. You could be weakened by the infection and contracted a bacterial infection started or Pneumonia.

Influenza or Flu is an acute infection caused by several strains of influenza viruses that affects primarily the respiratory tract but can affect the gastrointestinal tract,
musculoskeletal or nervous system. You may experience a few or all of the following symptoms: fever, chills, sore throat, cough runny nose, achy muscles, headache, fatigue, diarrhea, burning eyes and dizziness. It can last 24 hours or as long as 2 weeks. Influenza is contagious as long as the person has symptoms. Fluids and rest eases the symptoms along with decongestants and non-aspirin fever reducers. Secondary infections can also occur, so consult your doctor with any concern, like especially long, high fevers, chest pain or shortness of breath.

Most people recover from common colds and flu. These viruses are contagious and spread by hand or cough. Frequent hand washing, coughing into a tissue, and avoiding sick individuals helps. Disinfecting common use items also helps. If you are sick stay home when possible. Getting immunized will decrease the occurrence and severity of Influenza. It’s not too late to get a flu shot, flu season will continue until May.

Pat Woerheide