“Prevention is better than cure – Influenza Awarenes”
Babies grow up fast, soon my little one will be joining play school. Like all moms, I have my share of fears and anxieties pertaining to the new start; for my baby getting affected by contagious diseases like cold, flu etc.
I recently happened to attend an Influenza Awareness program which put a lot of my doubts and worries at rest. The meet was an eye-opener for all the mothers present there. The session was interactive and informative with experienced doctors like Dr.Mukesh Gupta (Gynecologist/ Obstetrician) and Dr. Uday Ananth Pai (Pediatrician). Also in the meet was Celebrity Mom Genelia Dsouza and she shared experiences from her motherhood journey as a mom of two.
Influenza and flu are common terms used interchangeably and often confused with common cold.
While both (the common cold and influenza/flu) are viral in nature affecting the respiratory system of our body they are JUST NOT the same.
So, what is Influenza?
Influenza affects our respiratory system and can be caused by influenza viruses which affect the nose, throat and lungs. It is a contagious illness.
Influenza virus is of 3 types: Types A, B & C. Influenza A/H1N1 (also called ‘Swine Flu’) is a type of seasonal flu virus that now occurs around the world.
How does flu spread?
Being viral in nature the flu is highly contagious and can easily spread through touch, coughing and sneezing. Flu viruses can even spread at a distance of 6ft. So, if a person with flu sneezes or coughs there are chances that others in the proximity may contract the virus.Not only direct but indirect touch like touching infected surfaces and objects can expose one to flu virus.
Is the flu different from common cold?
The flu presents itself suddenly and spreads easily. Common cold resolves sooner and doesn’t lead to rise in body temperature, however fever is one of the symptoms for flu.
Other flu symptoms are-
Cough and sore throat
Runny or Stuffy Nose
Loss of appetite
Who is most susceptible to Flu?
Being a viral disease, it can target anybody with compromised immunity.
The people prone to flu are primarily-
Children below 5 years of age. Severe influenza complications are most common in children younger than 2 years old. Children have poor immunity hence influenza often leads in hospitalization if not treated in time.
Children with chronic health problems like asthma, diabetes and disorders of the brain or nervous system are prone to develop serious flu complications.
Pregnant women- Flu is more likely to cause severe illness in pregnant women due to poor immune system and body dealing with other changes during pregnancy.
Dr.Mukesh Gupta highlighted the importance of flu vaccines during pregnancy and how pregnant women are more prone to influenza and how influenza during pregnancy can get fatal for expecting mom or the unborn baby.
Dr Pai added “Pregnant moms can take influenza vaccine at pre conception stage. Once missed it can be taken anytime during their pregnancy too. It is absolutely safe.”
Elderly people- As we age the immunity too plummets, making one more susceptible to flu virus.
Health Care professionals- Health Care Professionals who come in contact with patients are likely to be affected by influenza virus, hence, it is important that they are regularly vaccinated.
When should you be alarmed?
If a patient shows any of the following along with regular flu symptoms, the patient should head to the hospital at the earliest-
Fall in blood pressure
Coughing blood tinged sputum
Worsening of any underlying chronic conditions
Feeling too drowsy
High & persistent fever
How can one prevent Flu?
Washing/sanitising hands often with soap and water
By covering ones nose/mouth while sneezing or coughing.
It is important that each one in the high risk category gets influenza shots, especially children below 2 years and pregnant women.
In families with kids, all the family members should get vaccinated every year (saamuhik vaccination)
Influenza vaccines, also called flu shots or flu jabs, protect against influenza. Twice every year a new version of the vaccine is developed, as the Influenza virus changes rapidly.
The WHO recommends yearly vaccination for all people over the age of six months, especially those at higher risk.
As Dr.Pai shared “April, May, June (before the school reopens) is the best period to take influenza vaccination for children and whole family for complete prevention against flu”
Consult your doctor to know more on flu and flu vaccination. You can also find more about influenza and vaccinations at the MAI Website. MAI stands for “Mothers against influenza” and it is a credible source for all the information related to influenza and vaccination.
You can also check for vaccinating doctors in your locality by your pincode. You can find a doctor here
To conclude, Genelia rightly quoted “No mother must be a Worrier, she’s a Warrior. Best way to tackle your questions about flu or illnesses is to talk to your doctor“
The meet was quite enlightening and cleared a lot of my doubts. Hope the post is also useful to all my fellow Mommy Warriors.
“Disclaimer: I attended a discussion on influenza awareness facilitated by Abbott IndiaLimited. Any opinion expressed in this blog is my personal opinion and not the opinion ofAbbott India Limited. Abbott India Limited does not assume any liability for the content of theblog. The blog post is not meant to be a replacement for a doctor consultation, nor is it a medicalrecommendation or prescription of treatment for babies having Influenza. Any reader of this blog or their family members suffering from Influenza should specifically consult his/her doctorfor the same and follow the suggested course of treatment.”
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