20 January 2021

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Acute respiratory infections (ARI) are a group of diseases that are caused by many pathogens (influenza viruses, parainfluenza, respiratory syncytial virus, adenovirus, human metapneumovirus, etc.), transmitted by airborne droplets and characterized by acute damage to the human respiratory system.

Influenza is an acute infection of the respiratory tract caused by the influenza virus.

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The causative agents of influenza are three types of influenza virus (type A, type B and type C). All three types of influenza virus belong to the group of paramyxoviruses, which, however, are very different in structure. In addition, viruses of the same type (especially type A) are capable of rapidly changing and changing their structure. As a result of this process, new forms of influenza viruses unknown to our immune system are formed every year.

The maximum prevalence in the autumn-spring and winter months is associated with hypothermia. The factors that mostly contribute to the complicated course of these diseases are:

  • Pregnancy;
  • Overweight;
  • Chronic lung diseases, bronchial asthma;
  • Diabetes;
  • Chronic cardiovascular pathology;
  • Congenital and acquired immunodeficiency syndrome;
  • Age under 2 years old.

 

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The source of infection is a sick person with a clinically expressed or suppressed disease. The infection is transmitted through airborne droplets and contaminated hands or objects that carry respiratory viruses.

Clinical symptoms of influenza:

  • Acute onset;
  • High temperature (38-39 °C);
  • Weakness;
  • Headache;
  • Muscle pain;
  • Eye symptoms (photophobia, lacrimation, pain in the eyeballs);
  • Dry cough, runny nose

 

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To reduce the risk of catching acute respiratory infections, some rules should be followed:

  • provide systematic ventilation of the premises;
  • avoid close contact with people who seem unhealthy (sneeze, cough);
  • lead a healthy lifestyle (good sleep, rational nutrition, physical activity, regular walks in the fresh air);
  • observe the "Respiratory etiquette" (use a handkerchief when coughing and sneezing, it is preferable to use disposable paper handkerchiefs that are thrown away immediately after use; in the absence of a handkerchief, sneeze and cough in the crook of the elbow, and not in the hands; wash your hands with soap and water often and thoroughly or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer and avoid touching your lips, nose and eyes).

If you got sick anyway, then it is necessary to:

  • stay at home and follow the doctor's recommendations if you feel unwell;
  • rest, take plenty of fluids;
  • observe the "Respiratory etiquette";
  • wear a mask if you are in the common area of the house near other people.

 

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Influenza complication signs:

  • Shortness of breath during little physical activity or at rest
  • Labored breathing
  • Bloody sputum
  • Chest pain
  • Mental changes (agitation, drowsiness)
  • High temperature for more than 3 days, poorly subsided
  • Troublesome cough that masks shortness of breath
  • Low blood pressure

To prevent influenza and severe complications, annual vaccination is recommended to:

  • people over 60 years old
  • people suffering from chronic lung diseases
  • HIV-infected patients and people that receive immunosuppressants
  • Children from 6 months to 18 years of age that receive long-term aspirin treatment
  • Pregnant women
  • Healthcare workers and workers of services that provide vital systems (Ministry of Emergencies, transport, housing and public utilities, etc.)

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The information was compiled using information material from the Sanitary and Epidemiological Service of Minsk

 

Valeologist of the 4th City Clinical Hospital named after M. Saŭčanka U. Čarnoŭ