Learn to differentiate between seasonal flu and swine flu
Mortality can be reduced or averted through timely precautionary measures
Seasonal influenza, including H1N1, infects 3 to 5 million people worldwide and kills between 290,000 and 650,000 of them each year, estimates the World Health Organisation. In most cases, it causes symptoms of headache, fever, runny nose, cough and muscle pain, with people remaining undiagnosed and recovering within a week after using non-prescription medicines for fever and pain.
Speaking about this, Padma Shri Awardee, Dr KK Aggarwal, President, HCFI, said, "Despite the news abound of an increase in the number of swine flu cases, it is imperative that people do not panic. If adequate preventive measures are taken at the right time, there are less chances of mortality. Patients who have fever with coryza, that is, inflammation of the mucous membrane, and breathlessness should be kept in isolation and investigated for influenza. It is important that everyone takes vaccine for ordinary influenza. It will not prevent swine flu but will reduce its severity. Flu is usually caused by influenza viruses A and B. The strains vary each year. One may often confuse flu with a common cold as the symptoms are very similar. It is imperative to get a shot of the flu vaccine every year to prevent any incidence particularly in children, pregnant women, and older citizens."
As viruses adapt and change, so do those contained within the vaccines – what is included in them is based on international surveillance and scientists' calculations about which virus types and strains will circulate in a given year.
Adding further, Dr Aggarwal, who is also the Group Editor-in-Chief of IJCP, said, "Flu is primarily treated with rest and fluid intake to allow the body to fight the infection on its own. Paracetamol may help cure the symptoms but NSAIDs should be avoided. An annual vaccine can help prevent the flu and limit its complications."
Here are some tips to prevent spreading of seasonal flu.
· Those who are not sick should avoid close contact with people who are sick.
· People with flu should cover their mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. It may prevent those around you from getting sick.
· Washing your hands often will help protect you from germs. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
· Germs are often spread when a person touches something that is contaminated with germs and then touches his or her eyes, nose, or mouth.
· Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces at home, work or school, especially when someone is ill. Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious food.
Dr K K Aggarwal