Do we know enough about Influenza?

A couple of weeks ago, I along with a few bloggers were invited to attend an incredibly interesting and informative seminar organised by MAI (Mothers against Influenza) to raise awareness on Influenza.

Albeit, I’m from a medical background, I realised that my personal awareness on this topic was lacking. Not that I didn’t know about it but honestly, I wasn’t aware how serious it is. I’m pretty sure, a lot of moms out there are not aware of the gravity of this disease too.

But yes, I remember diligently taking this vaccine during my pregnancy and in fact, recently, less than a month ago, my 12 months old girl got vaccinated too. It’s highly recommended to vaccinate kids under 2 years of age against it since they’re at a risk of getting flu.

Doctors on the panel- Dr Uday Chopra (MD, DCH- Pediatrics) and Dr Mukesh Gupta (MD, ObGyn) interacted with us and shared some valuable information on this issue. We also had Genelia Deshmukh as the guest of honour who shared her personal experience and insights on vaccination and the importance of seeing and talking to your paediatrician regularly.

Coming back to Influenza, here’s some important information for you all, so that all of you moms are also well informed beforehand.

What is Influenza and how is it different from common cold?

Flu is a highly contagious disease which commonly spreads through coughing, sneezing, touching objects that are infected with virus etc. Did you know, it affects more than 10 million people per year in India itself? The most common organs that are affected by it are- the respiratory tract including nose, lungs and throat, which leaves the person with following symptoms:

Fever

Feverish chills

Cough

Runny nose

Sore throat

Body aches 

Head ache

Exhaustion 

Click here to reach the website of MAI (Mothers against Influenza) which is a credible source to get more information on Influenza.

Types of Influenza Viruses:

There are 3 types of influenza viruses: A, B and C. Type A and B cause seasonal epidemics almost every year while type C causes mild respiratory diseases.

Who are the people at high risk of developing Influenza?

  1. Children under 5 years of age

 Younger kids are more prone to being infected with the virus easily. 

It’s different from common cold and is generally more severe. Fever and chills are more common in Flu unlike cold.

Children having asthma, brain disorders, diabetes etc are at an increased risk of developing serious complications 

  1. Pregnant women 

Our body goes through tremendous hormonal and physical changes during pregnancy which often affects our immune system, making us more prone to falling sick.

Pregnancy can double the complications arising out of Influenza

It not only affects the mother, but also the health of unborn baby, it’s maturity and delivery too.

 

What are the preventative measures we moms can take?

-Get your baby who’s over 6 months, vaccinated before the onset of an epidemic. The best time to do it is before the reopening of school after summer vacation.

-Avoid stepping out with your baby who isn’t vaccinated during an epidemic.

-Not just the baby, take a samuhik approach- get the entire family vaccinated so that our shield against the disease is strong enough.

 

Important do’s and don’ts:

If you have flu like symptoms, get yourself checked immediately and avoid contact with people, especially kids. Keep a distance of more than 6 ft from them.

-Cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze

-Wash your hands regularly throughout the day

-Monitor your illness and see your doctor every 24hrs

-Take proper medications, drink plenty of water and eat nutritious healthy meals every 2-3 hours.

 

See your doctor immediately if you’re showing any of these signs along with other flu symptoms:

Adults:

Breathlessness

Chest pain

Drowsiness

Fall in blood pressure 

Blood spots in cough

Bluish nails

 

Children:

Drowsiness 

Not feeding well

High and persistent fever

Convulsions 

Difficulty in breathing

 

Influenza vaccination:

Influenza vaccines are prepared to protect individuals from infections of flu viruses. Based on the viruses present in the environment, these vaccines are formulated twice a year. World Health Organisation recommends yearly vaccination against influenza for all people, especially those at a high risk of this disease. 

Doctor Mukesh Gupta emphasised on getting the vaccination during pregnancy. “Go take a flu vaccine, even before you plan pregnancy. Only a healthy body can bring a healthy baby, preconception vaccine is important.” To which Genelia Deshmukh agreed and added, “All mothers must go meet your paediatricians, gynaecologist and get all questions answered about flu and staying protected with vaccination.”

Dr Uday Pai gave a very valuable piece of advice. He said, “Vaccines may take 4 to 6 weeks to build complete immunity in your body, so you must take it before any epidemic like swine flu breaks out.”

This was my key takeaways from the seminar. Although my daughter is vaccinated but me and my husband never thought of getting ourselves vaccinated too. Hope this post is equally useful to all of you as me.

Note: Doctors who vaccinate can be found in every locality with a simple search by pin-code. If you’re looking for a doctor, click here to find one in your vicinity.

 

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 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.”