Every year, with the arrival of the winter, many people are afraid of the possibility to catch the flu. But have you ever wondered how does the life cycle of that virus look like and what happens with your body?
The life cycle of the flu can be divided into three phases, and you can feel the well know symptoms like fever and muscle pain in the second phase. Although nobody wants it, it is hard to avoid the sore throat, the sneezing and other symptoms. Therefore, it is certainly good to know the cycle of the flu, what is happening in the body and what you can do.
The first 24 to 48 hours
What happens in the body: the flu virus has somehow come in contact with the respiratory system, either by breathing in after someone has coughed or snuffled near you, or by contact with a contaminated surface after which you put your hands near your mouth, nose or eyes. After that, the virus finds its way through the stations that connect the respiratory system and begins to multiply.
How you feel: In this phase you still do not feel any symptoms.
What to do: Unfortunately, you cannot do anything in this phase because you do not even know that you are infected with flu.
The following five to seven days
What happens in the body: The immune cells move to places where the flu virus replicates and send signaling molecules that warn the body to speed up the work of the immune system. The body strengthens the immune system as a response to the virus attack in order to prevent the flu to spread to other cells.
How you feel: Suddenly you get a fever, you feel great fatigue, you start to sneeze, you are cold, and you feel pain in all muscles and the whole body.
What to do: you can ease the symptoms by drinking tea, taking lozenges, and for the fever you should take paracetamol. The best thing to do in this phase is to rest. In addition, you should be aware that you are very contagious in this phase, especially the first few days after the symptoms have appeared. Therefore, you should stay at home and do not go to work so that you do not spread the disease to other people.
The last few days
What happens in the body: Thanks to the immune system, you can say goodbye to the flu virus. The disease and all its symptoms finally calm down.
How you feel: You can still have high temperature and sore throat, most of the damage is caused by coughing, but the fever and other symptoms mostly disappear.
What to do: Rest as much as you need, but you should feel much better than the previous days. You are no longer contagious, so if you feel well, you can go back to work.
What is important to know about the infectiousness of the flu: when you are sick, you are contagious until you feel the symptoms which usually include coughing and sneezing, because the virus can be spread through the water drops. High temperature is also another indication that you are still contagious. The period of infectiousness has passed if you no longer have a fever, you do not feel fatigue and pain in the muscles and joints.
However, the degree of infectiousness is higher at the beginning of the disease than at the end because then the virus in the body is more concentrated. In addition, children may feel the flu symptoms for a longer period and their infectiousness may last longer than in adults. The reason for that is that children do not have antibodies against the virus, so that the virus multiplies in higher concentration than in adults. Therefore, children can be contagious seven to ten days, compared to five to seven days, which is the average period when adults are contagious.
However, you should be aware of the fact that the symptoms and the length of infectiousness vary from one person to another, and the flu can last longer in people who have a weakened immune system or suffer from chronic diseases. For this group of people, the flu can be very dangerous, it can make the existing disease worse, it can cause pneumonia or other complications.