What YOU Need To Know About Influenza: #MomVsFlu
A few months ago, I attended an Influenza Awareness Meet held at St. Regis here in Mumbai. I also hosted the event and moderated the panel discussions held during it.
Ask any mother what she wants most in life, the answer will be the same across board – A healthy, happy child. And in order to achieve that; we, as mothers, need to equip ourselves with the right information so we can make the best decisions for our family.
For me, the event started a couple of days before the actual meet. Since I was moderating the expert panel discussion as well, I had to prep and read up on all the doubts and facts regarding influenza. There were many things I already knew about flu and influenza but some very simple facts were real eye openers.
For example, I knew flu is a respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses and it’s highly contagious. But I had no idea that people with flu can spread it to another person from just 6 feet away. And it’s more common than we think. There are more than 10 million cases per year in India. That’s a high number!
Before I get into the details of how and why this information is relevant to us as moms, let me first give you a breakdown of some facts about flu that you need to know. Then I will dwell into my conversation with the expert doctors and some very valid points made by them.
What YOU Need To Know About Influenza
- Fever or feeling feverish/chills ￼￼
- Sore Throat
- Runny or Stuffy Nose
- Muscles or Body Aches
Like I mentioned earlier, flu can spread from even a distance of 6 feet away. Coughing and sneezing is a common way the virus carries itself. Flu viruses spread mainly through tiny droplets made when people with flu cough, sneeze or talk. However, touching infected surfaces and objects can also expose you to the virus. Studies have shown that human flu viruses generally can survive on surfaces.
There are certain red flags you should always keep in mind and if the patient has any one of following in addition to the usual flu symptoms, immediately rush to your doctor for further tests and treatment. You can find even more information here – Mothers Against Influenza.
#MomVsFlu: Is Your Family At Risk?
First of all, we need to understand the fact that everyone is at risk for flu. My husband Karan is over 6 feet tall, very active and fit and eats healthy. He recently completed two gruelling treks in Ladakh in -15 to -20 degree temperatures. That reflects a healthy adult. But I still remember his bout of flu in Singapore when he could not sleep all night because of severe body ache. He tried lying down on the wooden floor, then on our Japanese mats and the sofa but he felt like his bones were breaking out of his body. That’s how bad flu can be! And it’s more severe in children under the age of five.
It’s also unsafe for children with chronic health problems like asthma, diabetes and disorders of the brain or nervous system. Pregnant women are at high risk too. Changes in the immune system, heart and lungs during pregnancy make women more prone to severe illness from flu as well as to hospitalisations. There is also a greater chance of serious problems for their unborn baby, including premature labor and delivery.
#MomVsFlu: What Can YOU Do?
Dr. Mukesh Gupta, Gynaecologist/Obstetrician, who holds 16 years of experience and has been awarded the ‘Emerging Star of Medicine’ by Indian Medical Association MWSB in 2011, advises all women to get a flu vaccination even before they get pregnant. He further explained – “Pregnant women can take influenza vaccine at anytime during their pregnancy. It is absolutely safe. Since there is not much time or energy left in a mom after delivery, it is better to take it before or during pregnancy.”
One simple point that just parked itself in my brain was made by Dr. Uday Pai, a paediatrician with 29 years of experience in strategy development for pharmaceutical, healthcare and nutrition businesses and products. He explained how most good schools these days have air conditioned classrooms but since the same air gets circulated, one child may infect everyone else. This was something I didn’t even think of earlier but will now be a factor while choosing schools. He added – “April, May & June is the period for the whole family to take influenza vaccination for children and whole family for complete protection against flu.”
Last but not the least, Bollywood actress and mom to two kids, Genelia Deshmukh also dropped in to share her experiences as a mother. Her message to all moms out there was – “Please go speak to your paediatrician, gynaecologist and family doctor and get all your questions answered about flu and staying protected with vaccination. No mothers should be a worrier. Every mother is a warrior. Best way to tackle your doubts is to speak to your doctors and build awareness.”
#MomVsFlu: My Message To You
The blogger in me hopes you found my blog post on flu awareness helpful. But the mother in me wants to stress upon the fact that every mother makes the best choice for her child given what she knows and has. As a mom community, it’s important to balance the line between giving advice and forcing our views on to someone else. The best thing we can do is spread awareness and relevant information and then let others decide what’s the best course of action they wanna take.
Therefore, I encourage all of you to go speak to your doctors and paediatricians about flu and influenza. Lets get this dialogue started and get some answers so we can make a choice that suits us best. To find Doctors in your vicinity who vaccinate, check here – Mothers Against Influenza – Find a Doctor.
Let’s spread this awareness in the right away so that every mother is empowered with information instead of being burdened by it.
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.