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#MomVsFlu – Busting the Myths about Influenza


September 11, 2018 Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Google+ Health and Wellness


#MomVsFlu - Busting the Myths about Influenza | Baby & Beyond

Ever since my son started daycare and school a year ago, one thing that has been a constant worry for me has been the frequency with which he has been falling sick. Almost every couple of weeks he comes home with runny nose or a cough. I was mistaken to think that every common cold is influenza and in layman’s terms I would say that say he has caught ‘the flu’.

 

I was recently invited to attend the #MomVsFlu event aimed at spreading influenza awareness amongst moms. It was an incredibly informative session paneled by:

  • Mukesh Gupta – eminent Gynecologist/ Obstetrician with over 16 years experience in his field and winner of the ‘Emerging Star of Medicine’ award by Indian Medical Association MWSB in 2011
  • Uday Pai – Paediatrician with 29 years experience in strategy, business development, research and analytics for global pharmaceutical and  healthcare businesses
  • Genelia D’souza – Indian film actress, influencer and a mother of 2 kids herself

 

The highlight of the event for me was that so many myths and misconceptions I had about influenza were busted. As Genelia rightly said, “No mother must be a Worrier, she’s a Warrior.”. Armed with the right information, we can be just that…warriors against this contagious illness. So in that spirit, I am going to share my learnings from the session with all of you.

 

What is Influenza and how does it spread?

Influenza or flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses that infect the nose, throat, and lungs. It’s a very common infection with more than 10 million cases per year in India!

Flu is highly contagious and can spread through coughing, sneezing, talking or coming into contact with infected surfaces.

 

What are some of the symptoms of Influenza?

Influenza is different from a common cold. The flu presents itself suddenly and spreads easily. The common symptoms of Influenza are:

  • Sudden high fever that does not come down even after 24 hours
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headaches
  • Tiredness

 

Additionally if you notice any of the below, you should visit a doctor immediately:

  • Breathlessness
  • Convulsions
  • Fall in blood pressure
  • Chest pain
  • Coughing blood tinged sputum
  • Bluish nails
  • Worsening of chronic conditions

 

What precautions can be taken to safeguard my family from Influenza?

  • Consult a doctor to know more on flu and flu vaccination. Vaccinating Doctors can be found in every locality with a simple search by a pincode here
  • If you are a parent or expecting a child, it is imperative to have a discussion with your gynaecologist and paediatrician. get all your questions answered about the flu and protecting your family
  • Flu vaccines protect against infection by Influenza viruses. This vaccine needs to be taken by the entire family every year
  • Take proper precautions when around an infected person
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze
  • If your child is suffering from the flu, it is advisable to keep him at home till the time the symptoms subside, to avoid spreading the infection to other children at school or at the park

 

#MomVsFlu - Busting the Myths about Influenza | Baby & Beyond

 

Influenza: Myth vs Fact

I admit that I had many misconceptions about Influenza and I am glad that the doctors were kind enough to patiently answer all our queries. Here are some of the myths that were busted during the session:

 

Myth: Only children are at a risk from influenza

Fact: We are all at a risk of getting infected, however the following groups are more at high risk because of their vulnerability:

  • Pregnant women
  • The elderly
  • Children between upto five years of age
  • Those with other chronic health problems
  • Those who work in healthcare

 

Myth: It is enough if only my child gets vaccinated / Vaccines are only meant for babies and not adults

Fact: Flu spreads by touching, coughing, sneezing by flu infected person onto babies. As Genelia pointed out, “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.”

Dr. Mukesh Gupta explained the concept of Samuhik vaccination – parents, grandparents, siblings and even caretakers of the baby should get vaccinated. In fact World Health Organization (WHO) recommends yearly vaccination for all people over the age of six months.

 

Myth: We have all taken the vaccine last year so we are safe

Fact: There are several different viruses that can cause the flu illness. Different strains of the flu virus mutate over time and replace the older strains of the virus. WHO declares the most recent strain of virus each year and hence it is important to get a flu shot annually to ensure that your body develops immunity to the most recent strains of the virus.

 

Myth: I have not come into direct contact with an infected person so I am safe

Fact: The flu virus can infect people up to 6 feet away. Also studies have shown that human flu viruses generally can survive on surfaces so you are even at risk if you happen to touch a surface that has been touched by an infected person.

 

Myth: Flu is not a serious threat

Fact: Flu is more severe than the common cold. Each year an average of 20,000 children under the age of 5 are hospitalized because of influenza complications. Children with chronic health problems like asthma, diabetes and disorders of the brain or nervous system are at especially high risk of developing serious flu complications.

 

Myth: We live in an affluent neighbourhood, my child goes to an air-conditioned so he is at a lesser risk

Fact: In fact a closed environment such as an air conditioned room is more conducive for the virus to spread. As Dr. Uday Pai stated, “April to June (before school year starts) is the best period to take influenza vaccination every year for children and whole family, for complete prevention against flu.”

 

Myth: A pregnant woman can take the flu vaccine after delivery to protect her newborn baby through breast milk

Fact: Vaccines can take 4-6 weeks to develop immunity in the body, so taking a vaccine after delivery will leave the baby vulnerable in the first few weeks when its immunity is at its lowest. It is best and safe to take the vaccine during pregnancy itself. In fact to quote Dr. Mukesh Gupta, “Go take a flu vaccine, even

before you can get pregnant.Only a healthy body can bring a healthy baby and hence preconception vaccine is important.”

 

The key takeaway for mothers is that your most important weapon is information. Talk to your doctor about Influenza and how you can protect your family. Its time to stop being worriers and become warriors!

 

For more information on symptoms, preventive actions and vaccinations, do visit the Mothers Against Influenza website.

 

 

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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Comments
  1. Sashwata Roy said on September 11, 2018 12:53 pm:

    A very informative post. Thanks for sharing

  2. kalpana said on September 11, 2018 2:56 pm:

    A very detailed and informative post.

  3. Shail said on September 11, 2018 3:25 pm:

    Very nice post. Very descriptive and informative.

  4. Monalisa Dey said on September 11, 2018 7:50 pm:

    Even I faced the same when my son joined ore school. Thanks for sharing

  5. Veena Haridas said on September 11, 2018 9:22 pm:

    I found this session very informative. As moms, we are told so many things that are in actuality MYTHS! I was shocked! I am glad I attended it and I am sharing this info for all parents so that they are all aware!

  6. Meena said on September 12, 2018 2:36 pm:

    Good post. Learnt a lot. Thanks