Humanity has been battling (and recovering from!) viral infections long before COVID-19. In fact, our last major pandemic, the Spanish flu, was also a virus. Humanity still hasn’t found a cure for viruses like we have for many illnesses that are based on bacteria. One of the longest known viral infections we still battle yearly is the flu.
The flu or the influenza virus used to be much more dangerous before modern medicine. Currently, we take a few days off work, get plenty of rest and liquids, and we’re back to fighting fit in no time. However, we can thank the fact that we are healthier in mind and environment for this. The flu is something we’ve grown up with. Since it has been around for decades, why don’t we have a cure yet?
Why We Don’t Have a Cure for Influenza
Influenza is a virus. Technically, a virus isn’t alive as we see the word. It depends on our bodies to survive and replicate. It cannot survive on its own without a host. Thus, when we’re looking to find a medicine that targets the virus, it’s challenging to find something that attacks the virus and not the host.
There are antiviral drugs available on the market. For example, HIV is treated with a range of antiviral medications. However, this only suppresses the virus instead of eliminating it altogether. Another reason is the variety of viruses. Bacteria are usually related to each other in one way or another. Thus, medicines used to treat one can be used to treat similar infections.
With a virus, this is not possible. You need specialized drugs for each kind of virus you want to target. Medical research is limited in the amount of money available for different projects. Companies would rather spend money on things that can treat a variety of conditions over a drug that has a single application.
Risk Factors In Getting Influenza
We are sure you’ve noticed an uptick in flu infections during the winter. In fact, winter is unofficially called flu season! You’ll be surprised to find out that it isn’t the temperature that is the only factor when getting the flu. It is also the humidity.
The National Institutes of Health have reported that the flu virus finds it easier to be transported when the humidity is low. Humidity is measured as absolute humidity, not the humidity in individual spaces. This dry air, which is more prevalent in winter, allows the virus to infect people easily.
The temperature has an effect on the flu virus. If you take a look at the weather by countries, you’ll find the coldest places often have the worst flu outbreaks. This is because the flu virus becomes supercharged at low temperatures. Unfortunately, this also means that people in cold countries are disproportionately affected by influenza.
The National Institutes of Health have reported their findings on the flu virus. It says that when the temperatures drop, the flu virus responds by becoming more active. The flu virus becomes easier to transmit and more resilient to harsh weather. This is why you see an uptick in the flu around winters and in cold-weather countries.
You’re more likely to get the flu if you or your environment have poor hygiene. One of the main ways to get infected by the flu, besides coming into direct contact with a patient, is from surfaces. As the infected person moves around, they leave traces of the virus behind wherever they go.
If the surfaces aren’t cleaned often enough, an uninfected person will come along, and the virus will find a new host. You can also guard your health against the flu virus by washing your hands whenever you touch an unknown surface for at least 20 seconds with soap and water.
While the baseline health for the human population has improved since the last century, we are facing some major health crises. Obesity, insomnia, and excess stress has stretched our immune system to the brink. There is no other alternative than making significant lifestyle changes as a natural preventative measure against all types of diseases. Browsing an online vitamin shop for additional nutritional supplements and simply changing your eating habits are great ways to improve your immune support.
To reduce your chances of getting sick, have a variety of seasonal fruits and vegetables. Eating seasonal produce keeps you supplied with natural vitamins and minerals that boost your immunity. You should also make sure you get 6-8 hours of restful sleep every night and exercise for at least 20 mins thrice a week.