Influenza is a viral infection typically occurring in the fall and winter in Arizona. For most people, this is a mild infection that is self-limited. However, for people with heart and lung disease or taking medications that impair their immune system it may become life threatening.

Symptoms caused by influenza are fairly predictable. Sore throat and mild upper respiratory symptoms are present initially shortly followed by fever and severe achiness of the muscles. Unlike a common cold, where most people feel well except for nasal congestion, cough and sore throat, with influenza, most people feel sick and want to stay in bed.

H1N1 influenza is just a particular strain or type of influenza. Symptoms are similar to seasonal influenza except that younger people and in particular pregnant woman are at particular risk of more severe disease.

The diagnosis of influenza can often be made by taking a history. Occasionally a chest X-ray is performed. People with risk factors for more severe disease mentioned above should call their doctor. Nasal and throat swabs are available with variable accuracy. In general they are very sensitive but not consistent (often missing cases). Additional testing may be required. For patients with increased shortness of breath or confusion hospitalization is required.

The treatment of influenza depends on when symptoms started and whether there are risk factors for more severe disease. Healthy adults may be managed in many cases by staying home and drinking fluids. High risk patients should be treated with antiviral medications. These are most effective when taken within 48 hours of symptom onset.

The lung doctors at Arizona Pulmonary Specialists are experts in diagnosing and treating influenza. Our team of doctors, nurses and respiratory therapists will work with you to ensure that you understand your medicines and other treatments.