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How to protect yourself against the Winter Flu (Influenza)?

Winter is the season of holidays and hot chocolates! But with the rapidly dropping temperatures also comes the risk of contracting seasonal flu viruses. Amid the current pandemic and the emergence of a new mutation of COVID-19, it is important now more than even to identify the flu symptoms early and treat them. Contact your nearest healthcare provider if  you are concerned about your symptoms or would like to schedule your annual flu shot.

It is very important to first understand what influenza is to be able to identify and effectively treat the symptoms. Influenza is a viral infection that attacks all organs of the respiratory system- nose, mouth, ears, throat and lungs. This droplet infection is more prominent in the winter months as the cooler temperatures enable the virus to live longer indoors. To further learn about the health complications of winter flu and preventive steps to be taken, read this blog.

Can influenza cause severe medical complications in children?

How to identify the risk groups for flu related complications?
Although influenza goes away on its own for most people, for some that fall under the below mentioned risk groups may develop drastic complications if not treated in time-

  • Children under the age of 5. The risk is even higher in kids aged 6 months and younger.

  • Adults older than age 65.

  • Pregnant women and women up to two weeks after giving birth.

  • People with weakened immune systems.

  • Patients who suffer from chronic illnesses, such as asthma, cardiovascular disorders, kidney disease, liver disease and diabetes.

  • People who are very obese, typically with a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or higher

Are dry cough and severe chest ache symptoms of Influenza or flu?

What are the common symptoms of winter flu?
Flu symptoms are often misdiagnosed as common colds. One of the key differences to note is that while a common cold takes a couple of days to develop, flu related cold and cough appear suddenly and with a much greater intensity. Watch out for the following signs-

  • Fever

  • Sore throat

  • Runny or blocked nose

  • Chills and sweats

  • Headache

  • Persistent, dry cough

  • Shortness of breath

  • Weakness 

  • Fatigue

  • Diarrhea (more common in children)

How to protect yourself against the influenza virus? | A.J. Hospital

How to protect yourself from the influenza virus?

  1. Avoid close contact

Limit your exposure to people who are sick. If you contract the flu, protect others by staying at home and keeping a distance from your family members as well.

  1. Keep your mouth & nose covered, especially around other people 

Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. Flu viruses spread mainly by droplets made when people with flu cough, sneeze or talk. Hence, keep a tissue or a mask on you at all times and sneeze or cough into it.

  1. Wash your hands frequently 

Clean your hands often as it will help protect you from germs. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

  1. Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth

The virus can spread when a sick person touches their eyes, nose, or mouth and then touches the objects in their surroundings. Avoid doing so to limit the spread.

  1. Practice healthy habits

Disinfect frequently touched surfaces, especially when someone is ill. Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink lots of water, and eat nutritious food.

  1. Get your annual flu vaccine

Getting vaccinated for the flu is an effective way to stop the spread of the virus. Contact a nearby doctor  for the annual vaccine schedule in your region and whether you are cleared to take the shot, especially if you are suffering with any chronic illnesses. 

What are the health complications associated with untreated influenza?
Usually, the flu doesn’t cause any serious health complications if you are young and healthy. It may go away on its own in 1-2 weeks time. But patients falling in the risk group for flu may develop the following medical conditions-

  • Pneumonia

  • Asthma flare-ups

  • Bronchitis

  • Heart disorders

  • Ear infections

  • Acute respiratory distress syndrome

  • Other respiratory troubles

Consult a doctor | Best Doctors Near Me | A.J. Hospital, Mangalore

When to see your doctor?
Contact a pulmonologist in case you observe the following emergency signs:

  • Difficulty in breathing or shortness of breath

  • Persistent chest pain

  • Dehydration

  • Frequent dizziness

  • Seizures

  • Blue lips (more evident in children)

  • Severe weakness 

  • Muscle ache

  • Worsening of existing medical conditions

Maintaining good overall hygiene and getting your annual flu shot is crucial to fight the influenza. Visit A.J. Hospital & Research Centre, Mangalore to consult with our team of dedicated doctors for solutions to all your healthcare needs.