Every time a person with the flu coughs, he expels more than 2,000 virus-laden droplets. If you are near this person and you inhale these droplets or touch a surface coated with them then rub your eyes, they will get into your system and make their way to your airway’s cells. The flu virus can travel to the lungs unlike colds, which only attack the throat and nose. Your immune system will immediately go on the offensive: churning out antibodies and T cell soldiers that will hold on to and destroy the virus. If you have been vaccinated against that particular strain, your antibodies will be stockpiled.
Here’s how the flu affect the body
Next day or two
During this time, although you will not know it, the virus will be using your cellular machinery like a copy machine. Your cells will swell with the rapidly multiplying flu and burst, filling your body with the virus. At this stage of the virus, you are contagious. Therefore, you should sneeze into your elbow or cough into a tissue to avoid infecting others.
By day four
By this stage, your immune system cannot keep up with the furious spread of the flu. The symptoms will hit you hard and you go from feeling lively to being bedridden in just a few hours. Other symptoms include headache, tender muscles, fever, and chills. The virus is not making you feel that way; the miserable feeling stems from inflammation. Your body is using up all its energy to fight the flu, and you will not even be able to find the energy to walk to the bathroom.
You will develop a dry cough, the body’s way of keeping dead cell debris from blocking your lungs. As your throat starts aching due to irritation, it will trigger mucus release.
Next three to five days
Antibodies and T cells are the only things that can help you now. At this stage, they are locking onto their targets and you will be stuck in bed. Do not bother to take over the counter medication or vitamin C; they will not help. Just stick to drinking fluids and resting. If you are unlucky, these normally harmless throat bacteria will descend into your lungs, putting you at risk of pneumonia.
After a week
Assuming that you have escaped pneumonia, the immune system will have finally kicked the flu virus to the curb. As your inflammation starts to subside, so will your symptoms. However, you might still be contagious for a few more days and you need to be careful to avoid spreading it. It will take at least a week for you to get back to your old, healthy self.
After your body succeeds in fighting off the flu, you need to be cautious. Wash your hands after touching any surface that might be contaminated. This is the best way that you can fend off a new virus. You do not want to get sick again, do you? After shaking hands with people, you need to wash your hands for at least 20 seconds under running water.
Which systems does the flu affect?
- Immune system – the immune system is responsible for fighting infections caused by bacteria, parasites, fungi, and viruses.
- Respiratory system – the flu is primarily a respiratory virus, which produces lower and upper respiratory symptoms.
- Digestive system – seasonal influenza causes a lack of appetite. Symptoms such as runny nose and sore throat make eating a chore. Moreover, lack of appetite is a secondary effect of cytokines affecting the appetite centers of the brain.
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