Things have begun to normalize and aren’t we happy stepping out and going back to our lives? While diseases may have become a part of our everyday vocabulary, we don’t take them seriously unless some critical warnings begin to appear. The episode of the pandemic was sufficient to raise awareness about the infections and the need to protect ourselves from their harmful impacts. But there are other infections too that we should know about. Today, I’ll be discussing influenza with you in more detail. Influenza or flu is one of the most common infections we deal with, in our lives.¹
Influenza is a contagious respiratory illness that makes us feel sick. If our immune system is good, we can quickly continue with our routine work after that stint. But, people with low immunity suffer for a longer period and their symptoms linger for months that follow.² Young children below 5 years, elderly people above 65, pregnant women and people with medical conditions are at a higher risk of developing critical symptoms.³ Seriously, I feel worried about the flu and the related symptoms.
Are you wondering where I learned all these things from? Recently I attended a Facebook live interview with the experts Dr Sadanand S. Shetye and Dr Mangesh Tiwaskar. I’m sharing some useful information from the insightful session.
Why should you be worried about the flu?
1. Flu is Different from Common Cold and Cough
Flu is often confused with common cold and cough. Although each of them is a contagious respiratory illness, both are caused by different viruses. The common cold can be caused by several viruses whereas flu is caused by the influenza virus. The influenza virus targets the nose, throat and lungs. Generally, flu tends to trigger serious health problems. The common cold is relatively milder and doesn’t cause serious health complications.⁴
2. Flu spreads easily and is potentially severe
Influenza (flu) is a potentially serious disease. It spreads easily from person to person when the infected person sneezes or coughs. The droplets from the infected person travel via air and infect other people. Many people get cured of influenza but millions of people have been hospitalised every year and thousands of them die because of flu-related complications. Yes, it’s a significant reason why you should be worried about the flu.⁵
3. Severe conditions may lead to hospitalisation
The complications of flu vary from an ear infection, and sinus infection to pneumonia and worsening of chronic medical conditions like asthma, diabetes or heart failure. The risk of complications is highest in children below 5, the elderly above 65, pregnant women and people with pre-existing health conditions. You must have noticed that the cases of influenza are the highest during the change of season and mostly children suffer from this infection. Flu vaccination has been shown to reduce severity of illness in several studies.⁶
How do you reduce the risk of Influenza?
1. Now, you know that Influenza is a virus infection. To save ourselves from catching the infection, we should be selective in touching objects around us as well as our nose, eyes or mouth.⁵
2. Try to avoid coming in contact with sick people. If you are a caretaker, wear a mask and gloves when you are near a sick person.³
3. Follow the rules of basic hygiene. Wash your hands many times a day. Use an alcohol-based sanitiser if it’s not possible to wash with soap and water. If you are coughing or sneezing, wear a mask to avoid transmission of the disease.³
4. One of the best ways to stay safe is to get vaccinated against the influenza virus. Yes, today we have the facility to get vaccinated and protect ourselves from catching influenza.⁶
How can vaccination help reduce flu cases?
Flu vaccination once administered, starts producing antibodies. These antibodies fight the influenza virus particles and eliminate them before they can damage our tissues. As a result, vaccinated people don’t fall sick and if they do catch an infection, the illness is less severe.⁶ WHO (World Health Organization) recommends annual flu vaccination for high-risk people as the best procedure to decrease the number of influenza cases.⁷
So, book an appointment with your doctor today and ask them about the influenza vaccination. It is the best way to #FightAgainstFlu.
Aditi is a lifestyle blogger who is a self-proclaimed promoter of a healthy lifestyle and making conscious food choices. She blogs at https://aditikapur.com/