Infectious diseases require a timely response in order to mitigate their negative effect on the patient’s health. However, it is necessary to remember that their impact on the human body is not limited by the cells, tissues, and organs, while they also affect the overall intensity of metabolic processes and disrupt the stability of physicochemical parameters in the organism. The understanding of this concept may help in the course of treatment of a wide array of illnesses, making it more efficient. Therefore, it is necessary to draw a connection between a particular infectious disorder (influenza) and the alterations in the homeostatic state of the patient, while taking into account such factors as the age, ethnicity or genetics.
Prior to conducting the analysis, it is necessary to ensure that the diagnosis is correct. The information presented in the case indicates that the patient’s mother was able to identify the disease as influenza instead of a simple cold. Most likely, the primary reason for such judgment was specific manifestations of the illness. First of all, the patient has experienced fast worsening of his condition, with fever and chills appearing only within several hours. Such clinical picture is common for the flu, with the disorder rapidly manifesting itself (Compans & Oldstone, 2014). On the other hand, in the case of a cold, one can observe a gradual increase in the severity of symptoms. Moreover, influenza is accompanied by the pain in the head, eyes, and muscles, chills, profuse sweating, weakness, dizziness, and a sharp temperature rise, while the cold mostly leads to nasal congestion and pain in the throat without a significant fever. In other words, when talking about the manifestations of cold and flu, the difference is quite significant, meaning that even a non-professional can make a correct diagnosis. The latter fact is quite important, as the timely diagnostics of influenza may give the possibility to prevent a wide array of complications. Among them are bronchitis, pneumonia, and sinusitis (inflammation of the paranasal sinuses) as well as the damage to the heart, kidneys, and brain (Compans & Oldstone, 2014). Under certain conditions (e.g. weakened immunity), these disorders can become chronic, with their treatment becoming much more complex.
The pathophysiology of influenza is as follows. The mucosa of the respiratory tract becomes the entrance gate for the virus in the form of small particles of mucus in the aerosol formed during coughing and sneezing of the infected people. After that, the pathogen overcomes the factors of nonspecific resistance of the mucous membrane, infecting it and starting the replication process. The rate of the latter is very high, with each virion producing more than 1,000 new virions within 24 hours (Compans & Oldstone, 2014). The newly synthesized virus buds through the apical membrane of infected epithelial cells of the respiratory tract after 8 hours from the moment of infection and affects the adjacent intact epitheliocytes (Compans & Oldstone, 2014). As a result, the infection spreads rapidly, which contributes to fast manifestation of its symptoms.
The negative effect of the pathogen is related to the presence of antigens in its structure. Specifically, the virus of influenza A contains several antigens, namely neuraminidase and hemagglutinin, which play a major role in the described processes. Neuraminidase is a viral enzyme that separates sialic acid from the glycolipids on the epithelial cell membranes, converting them into receptors for hemagglutinin, thereby facilitating the progression of the infection to the surface of the target cell (Kapoor & Dhama, 2014). Such separation is important, as sialic acid inhibits the activity of neuraminidase. However, during the winter-spring period, its secretive content decreases, contributing to the seasonal nature of influenza. On the other hand, hemagglutinin binds to the receptors on the plasma membranes of the sensitive cells to ensure the fixation of the virus on their surfaces with its subsequent penetration into the cell together with neuraminidase. The budding of newly formed virions from the epithelial cells also occurs under the control of neuraminidase, which prevents their aggregation during the emergence from the infected host (Kapoor & Dhama, 2014).
The activity of the described antigens has a considerable effect on the homeostatic state of the patient. First of all, sialic acid affects the surface of the cells, giving them a negative charge. Given the fact that water takes a form of polar molecule, with both of its hydrogen atoms having a positive charge, it is easily attracted to such surfaces. After the acid is removed, the cells’ ability to absorb water becomes impaired, causing changes in electrolytic balance (De Luca, Menani, & Johnson, 2014). Additionally, hemagglutinin contributes to the agglutination (clumping) of the red blood cells, leading to their destruction with the subsequent penetration of hemoglobin directly into the blood. The concentration of ions in the latter also increases as a result of this process, changing the homeostatic state of the organism (De Luca et al., 2014). In the reviewed case, the problem is exacerbated by the young age of the patient. The relative stability of physicochemical parameters in children is ensured by a pronounced predominance of the anabolic processes over the catabolic ones. It is one of the primary conditions for growth of a child, as opposed to adults that maintain their metabolic processes are in a state of equilibrium. As a result, the regulation of balance in children is more intense than it is in adults (De Luca et al., 2014). In other words, the probability of dangerous and life-threatening homeostatic states in children is much higher, which dictates the need for an integral approach to their treatment.
It is also necessary to note that the risk of the patient contracting secondary bacterial pneumonia is quite high, as the influenza virus significantly reduces the anti-infectious resistance of the organism and promotes the development of secondary infections through a number of pathogenetic mechanisms. The most significant of those is the loss of integrity of the epithelium of the respiratory tract. In addition, the influenza virus induces apoptosis of the main immune cells (alveolar macrophages), leading to local immunosuppression (Compans & Oldstone, 2014) and creating conditions for the development of bacterial pneumonia. In this case, the patient is likely to demonstrate the signs of cyanosis (the bluish coloration of the skin and mucous membranes caused by the high content of reduced hemoglobin in the blood) due to the respiratory insufficiency and hemodynamic disorders caused by the activity of the influenza virus antigens. Specifically, the destruction of red blood cells due to the presence of hemagglutinin triggers an increase in the concentration of reduced hemoglobin and leads to the development of hypoxemia and, subsequently, cyanosis (De Luca et al., 2014).
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Thus, influenza virus has a direct effect on the homeostatic state of the patient, disrupting the stability of physicochemical parameters in the human body, with this process being dependent on such factors as the age of an individual. Children are particularly vulnerable to such shifts, which may weaken their immunity even more, ultimately leading to the emergence of life-threatening conditions. The knowledge of the peculiarities of homeostasis in the patients of different age, ethnic, and gender groups may play a major role while developing an effective plan of treatment and prevention of worst-case scenarios.
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