Influenza B is a flu virus that affects the respiratory system. The virus causes breathing problems due to respiratory infection, stomach issues, and high fever. The Influenza virus is typically airborne and is transmitted through inhalation via the nose or mouth. Although treatable, influenza can be fatal to infants and the elderly. When Influenza B is not treated immediately, it can lead to bacterial pneumonia.
Unlike Influenza A, Influenza B is slightly less common. Influenza B is also not defined with flu subgroups but rather, by certain flu strains.
Causes of Influenza B
The most common cause of Influenza B is exposure to the virus via droplets of moisture. The infected moisture is released through talking, coughing, or sneezing. The transmission will vary but essentially, the virus will enter the body through the eyes, mouth, and nose.
Unfortunately, Influenza B is extremely contagious. Also, the virus is able to create new strains constantly so the body is not able to develop antibodies to ward off new types of flu strains.
Signs and Symptoms of Influenza B
The most common signs and symptoms of Influenza B are fever, chills, runny nose and sore throat. Other symptoms include difficulty in breathing, upset stomach, nausea, loss of appetite and vomiting. In severe cases, Influenza B will develop into bacterial pneumonia or bronchitis.
Bacterial pneumonia is a condition wherein the Influenza virus causes severe damage to the lungs. The virus also causes inflammation in the airways, swelling of the lungs’ air sacs and eventually fluid retention in the lungs.
Influenza B may also progress to severe conditions if not treated right away. It can cause a rare brain condition called encephalitis. Symptoms of encephalitis include headaches, fever, confusion, seizure and coma. Influenza B may also cause myositis or severe inflammation of the legs. The virus can also cause Reye’s syndrome. This is a type of neurological disease that affects teens and children.
Treating Influenza B
The most common treatment for Influenza B is anti-viral medication. Your doctor could prescribe zanamivir or oseltamivir to reduce the duration of the illness. These drugs could also minimize the risk of complications.
Over the counter painkillers, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen, help reduce body aches associated with the flu. However, children suffering from flu should not be given Aspirin. Studies show that aspirin increases the risk of developing Reye’s syndrome in children.
You want to drink plenty of fluids if you are suffering from Influenza B. Being infected by the flu will increase your risk of dehydration. We recommend drinking water, warm soup as well as fruit juices high in vitamin C.
You need enough rest so the immune system is strong enough to fight off the infection. You want to sleep at least 8 hours at night and bed rest during the day. Do not engage in strenuous activities when afflicted with the flu. Vigorous physical activities could weaken the body and will affect the immune system.
Preventing the Influenza B Virus
Get Annual Flu Shots
Prevention is always better than the cure. You want to get a flu shot each year to make the body resistant to the virus. These vaccines are typically administered via injection or nasal spray.
Do not Spread the Virus
If you are sick with the flu, contain the illness so you do not spread the virus to other people. Always wash your hands and apply alcohol-based sanitizers to kill the offending microbes. When you sneeze, cover your mouth with a tissue. Do not go to crowded areas and stay at home to limit contact with other people.