Influenza, Humidity, & Winter Are Closely Interwoven

Influenza is a virus that infects the respiratory tract. Symptoms you’ll experience include fever, chills, cough, sore throat, headache, muscle aches and fatigue.

An incubation period is the period of time between exposure to an infection and the first appearance of correlating symptoms. The incubation period for the influenza virus is approximately one to four days.

The flu is very contageous and the symptoms can last anywhere from 7 to 14 days on average. Contageous means you can pass the virus onto other individuals through a variety of means.

The flu is spread both indirectly and directly from person to person. The influenza virus is contained within airborne droplets and spread through the air (usually sneezing, coughing, hand shakes, and so on).

These airborne droplets will land on an uninfected individual or surface, and within one to four days if the immune system isn’t built up to fight off the virus you will begin to develop the above listed symptoms. You can also pick up these virus’ by touching contaminated surfaces and unintentionally spread it by touching your face. (This is why it’s a great idea to keep hand sanitizer around during flu season.)

Most people who get the flu recover within one to two weeks but there is a chance that it can develop into life-threatening medical complications like pneumonia.

If you suffer from chronic health problems you will experience an increase of negative symptoms associated with those health problems due to the immune system working to fight off the virus.

H3N2 Influenza Virus

The influenza virus does change overtime adapting to its environment and those it wishes to infect. The CDC condones a variety of flu vaccines to fight the virus but it’s definately a controversial subject that not all people agree with. I personally refuse to take the flu shot and be proactive in other ways to avoid suffering from its painful and incredibly uncomfortable symptoms.

There are many different strains of the flu. H3N2 is a new form of the influenza virus that was identified in 2011. A cold is different from the flu as it won’t affect the respiratory system the same way, since it cannot develop into life threatening diseases like pneumonia.

H3N2 Influenza Virus vs Cold

Now that we understand the difference between a cold and a “flu” (influenza) and why the flu is so volatile on the human system, lets understand how our body works to fight these influenza virus’s to either completely stay away and not show signs or works through days of battle to get it rid of it and help you get healthy again.

Viruses are infectious micro-organisms that require a living host to survive and multiply. When one enters your body, it invades and takes over cells, redirecting them to produce more of the virus.

H3N2 Influenza Virus Composition

We have an army of warriors that lives within our bodies keeping virus’ out and defending the natural organisms that live within us. These army warriors are constructed of white blood cells. We around a billion little warriors moving throughout our body every day maintaining order as best as they can.

As soon as a germ is detected these white blood cells will immediately slay them and make sure they fall to their death and not hurt us. Antibodies are a special protein our body has that fights viral infections as well. These antibodies help the white blood cells by hanging onto the virus to stop it from spreading. While these antibodies hold the enemy virus, the white blood cells attacks until they have murdered the enemy virus.

H3N2 Blood Cells Within Blood Vessel

When the virus is wiped away and our body is recovered back to normal health, the army of antibodies and white blood cells will keep a memory of the virus. Think of it like a mugshot of the enemy kept up on a wall somewhere so you can identify him if you run into him. These exposures to the infection and successful battle against them strengthens the immune system to fight these battles when they arise again.

H3N2 Antibodies Influenza Chart

Unfortunately the influenza virus has the ability to adapt and change in time to better fight back when they choose to do so. Our bodies will continually work to fight and defend you and keep tabs on the evolutionary changes these virus’ present us.

One last thing to think about is the fact that the influenza virus typically attacks many people at once during the cold seasons in north america. If the influenza is driven by seasonal changes what does that exactly mean? Influenza is affected by the humidity in the air since it is transfered from person to person through airborne droplets.

H3N2 Influenza Virus Airborne Droplet Transfer

Temperature affects the amount of water vapor that the air can hold. When the weather is warmer the air can hold more water vapor and there is more moisture present. Alternatively, when it’s colder outside there is less water vapor in the air and thus less moisture is present.

Previous studies have shown that the flu survives and spreads better when the air is dry. This suggests that the flu might survive better when the humidity is low. Typically, humidity is lowest during the wintertime when the air is very cold and dry. These seasonal changes in humidity might explain why more people get sick from the flu during the winter.

H3N2 Humidity Fights Flu

During most winter seasons, flu symptoms started around a time that absolute humidity was low. This low absolute humidity occurred about 4 weeks before the date when flu symptoms started. These findings led scientists to believe that maybe the low absolute humidity somehow helped the flu virus to survive and spread during the wintertime.

This study showed that when there is less absolute humidity in the air, it is easier for the flu virus to survive and spread. This means that it’s more likely that you can catch the flu virus and get sick when it’s cold outside. With this in mind, it’s extra important to wash your hands after you cough or sneeze around this time of year to avoid spreading the flu. Lastly, remember to bundle up the next time you’re going out to play on a cold day and you’ll be more likely to avoid catching the flu. Don’t sleep with the window wide open during the night in the wintertime. Keep your home relatively warm and bundle yourself up. Turn a humidifier on in the home as well to keep humidity higher than normal.

prevent cold and flu


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