What is Flu and what do we need to know about it?
When a baby is born, one of the first few things that a doctor hands over to the parents is a list of vaccination that the baby needs to be given over the next few weeks, months and years. One of the most recurring of these vaccines is for “Influenza”, commonly known as “Flu”. However, we really do not know what exactly flu is or for that matter how to recognize symptoms of flu. It is often used interchangeably with viral fever, making it dangerous.
Recently, I got an opportunity to attend a session on this and got a lot of these doubts clarified and the discussion that happened there was an eye-opening one. I would like to share a few things that I learnt that day but before that let me try to bust some myths about the flu:
- Flu is just like a bad cold.
- Getting flu vaccination is not required for healthy people.
- One can’t spread virally if they have no symptoms
- You don’t need a flu shot every year.
- There is nothing you can do if you/your family members have the Flu
- Pregnant women shouldn’t take flu vaccines.
Flu is not to be taken lightly, in fact, children, pregnant women and elderlies are the ones who are at maximum risk and yet these are the people who are not vaccinated on time.
All these myths were tackled one by one by the doctors who were present for the event and a lot of information was presented to us by them. I would like to share the same here for the benefit of the readers.
The team at the event
We had two very renowned doctors who led the entire discussion. The following are their profiles in all the glory:
- Mukesh Gupta – Gynecologist
Dr Mukesh Gupta is a Gynecologist/ Obstetrician, practising in Mumbai. He holds a rich experience of 16 years in his field.
- UdayAnanthPai – Pediatrician
He is a Pediatrician (MD, DCH Distinction) with 29 years of work experience. He currently practices in Mumbai. For a comprehensive list of doctors, click here:
Apart from this, the cause was also supported by Genelia Deshmukh, an actor and a mother of two children.
With such a strong team and also an experienced mother joining the cause, backed up by medicals facts, it was a very informative session.
FLU: Symptoms and precautions
Before we talk about vaccinations, it is very important to know what are the typical symptoms of flu and what kind of precautions can be taken to prevent flu from being contracted from someone who is already infected by it.
Flu and the common cold are generally interchangeably used and not many people are aware of how different they are from each other and how Flu is actually dangerous, while the common cold is not.
To know how common cold is different from flu, it is important to know the symptoms of Influenza. These are – 1. Fever or feeling feverish/chills
3. A sore Throat
4. Runny or Stuffy Nose
5. Muscles or Body Aches
7. Tiredness: – https://bit.ly/2Qen
We all know that as a mother we take utmost care to prevent our families from catching any diseases. As Genelia rightly quoted during her talk, “My elder child may carry a flu virus and my younger child may get infected. So it is important to protect them both and get the whole family vaccinated”.
The following are the precautions that we as a family take to safeguard ourselves:
- Take proper precautions when around an infected person.
- Cover our nose and mouth with a tissue when we cough or sneeze.
- Wash our hands often with soap and water
- Vaccination of high-risk persons is especially important to decrease their risk of severe flu illness especially in children below 2 years of age and pregnant women.
Take away from the event:
A lot of discussions happened at the event and it was overwhelming to see so many mothers (Genelia included) being so concerned about the children and the families in general. It is indeed very important to get vaccinated for flu, every year. As Dr Mukesh said, “Best time of year to take the vaccine is just before schools reopen, for both children and moms”. This statement was well supported by Dr Pai who said, “April, May, June is the best period to take influenza vaccination for children and the whole family for complete prevention against flu”.
To this, Genelia added, “No mother must be a Worrier, she’s a Warrior. Best way to tackle your questions about flu is to talk to your doctor”.
For me, the most important takeaways from the event are:
- Samuhik Vaccination– Flu spreads by touching, coughing, sneezing by flu affected person onto babies. So it’s best that families – parents, grandparents and even caretakers of the babies get vaccinated.
- Pregnancy precaution– Pregnant women should get vaccinated so that they don’t carry a risk of premature delivery/complications for the unborn child.
- Worriers to Warriors– Fight all worries related to babies suffering from Flu by becoming more Flu and vaccination aware.
- Importance and Benefits of Vaccination – Babies and pregnant women have a higher risk of influenza bouts and hence prevention is the best option and vaccination should be considered.
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.’
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