What is Influenza Flu
It is a contagious respiratory illness which basically infects the nose, throat and lungs and is caused by influenza viruses. It is a very common infection having more than 10 million cases reported in India. But a lot of us treat it is as a common cold due to unawareness.
Sometime back, I happened to get this opportunity to attend Influenza awareness bloggers meet, which stressed on awareness of Influenza, the risk involved and how to prevent ourselves especially the high-risk groups like pregnant ladies and young kids. The event threw light on various facets of Influenza and busted a lot of myths and ignorance around it.
Two highly qualified doctors, Dr Mukesh Gupta, a Gynaecologist/Obstetrician, with over 16 years of experience and Dr UdaiPai, a Paediatrician (MD, DCH Distinction) with 29 years of work experience, were present at the event and gave their valuable insights on influenza, its symptoms, why should we not treat it like a common cold and how can we prevent ourselves and our families.
Along with them, actress Genelia Deshmukh graced the event with her presence and shared her views and experiences on influenza as a mom. She suggested that All mothers must go meet their paediatricians, gynaecologist and get all questions answered about flu and stay protected with vaccination.
Last year, my neighbour’s preschooler got infected by his playschool and the parents misunderstood it for a common cold. After a few days when his condition worsened, he had to be hospitalized only to our realization, it was an extreme outburst of flu. However, the condition was brought under control upon hospitalization.
This could’ve been avoided, had we been more aware of Flu vaccinations.
So to help you out, I am listing out some important learnings from the meet.
Influenza isn’t Common Cold
- We should note that the flu is different from a common cold. The flu presents itself suddenly and spreads easily. The common symptoms of Influenza are –Fever or feeling feverish/chills, Cough, Sore Throat, Runny or Stuffy Nose, Muscles or Body Aches, Headaches along with Tiredness.
- Flu is highly contagious and spreads not only by Coughing and Sneezing but also when coming in contact with the infected surfaces and objects. i.e People with flu can spread it to others for up to about six feet away. These Flu viruses spread mainly through tiny droplets when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks near you. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of nearby people and inhale into the lungs. We can be exposed to flu at all public places by touching a surface or object that has flu virus on it and then touching our mouth, eyes, or nose with the same hands.
- Some possible preventive measures would be- Covering nose and mouth with a tissue while coughing or sneezing, Frequently washing hands with soap and water or using a sanitizer and the most important and effective would be getting vaccinations for the pregnant woman or for children less than 5 years of age.
- Special Attention to High-Risk Groups: Since Children, less than 5 years of age and pregnant women are at a low immunity level, they are the ones being more prone to Flu. Dr Mukesh Gupta gave a solution- “Go take a flu vaccine, even before you can get pregnant. Only a healthy body can bring a healthy baby, preconception vaccine is important.”He also clarified that “Pregnant moms can take the influenza vaccine at any time during their pregnancy. It is absolutely safe.”
- Samuhik Vaccination– A very valid point was made by Dr Mukesh, as Flu spreads when Flu affected people are touching, coughing, sneezing around babies. So it’s best that families – parents, grandparents and even caretakers of the babies get vaccinated.
When is the right time to take Influenza Shot
The Doctors also highlighted that the timing to take the vaccination is also important, The ideal time is before the school reopens; we should not wait till last day before opening of school and go for vaccinations, as the Vaccines may take 4 to 6 weeks to develop complete immunity in your body, so you must take it before any epidemic like swine flu breaks out.
What WHO recommends about Influenza
An important thing to note here is that The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends yearly vaccination for almost all age groups as everyone is susceptible to the disease, especially those at high risk. These groups include pregnant women, the elderly, children between six months and five years of age, those with health problems, and those who work in healthcare.
I hope you find this information useful and it will help you make informed decisions. It has busted a lot of my myths and I feel confident to Fight all worries when it comes to my Babies Flu. Are you?
You may read more details here -and if you wish to Find/Consult a Doctor for Vaccinations, click here for an easy link, here you can find doctors available in your locality with a simple search by your area pin code.
Disclaimer: “I attended a discussion on influenza awareness facilitated by Abbott India Limited. Any opinion expressed in this blog is my personal opinion and not the opinion of Abbott India Limited. Abbott India Limited does not assume any liability for the content of the blog. The blog post is not meant to be a replacement for a doctor consultation, nor is it a medical recommendation 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 doctor for the same and follow the suggested course of treatment.”