Have you ever heard of a particular disease and believed that ‘this does not happen to me or my family’? That this is for others? Or you have heard the name of a disease but never bothered to know more about it because you were sure, you would never be affected by it? I thought all these things!
But as a mom, now I know how wrong I was! For me, flu and common cold meant the same thing. I never put in much thought about the disease nor did I bother to understand the difference or know the precautions to be taken. But when my younger child got the flu or influenza, reality hit hard and I realized how unprepared I was, especially when our whole household caught it.
What is Influenza or Flu?
Influenza is an illness caused by RNA viruses that infect the respiratory tract. In most people, the infection results in you getting a fever, cough, headache, fatigue and sore throat. Some of us could also develop nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea .
Are influenza and the common cold the same?
In a digital meet-up that I attended recently, Dr. Yewale, former President, Indian Academy of Pediatrics, took us through the different ways we could tell the difference between the common cold and influenza.
He said that though the initial symptoms are similar, influenza and the common cold are not the same. To identify the flu, usually, lab tests are recommended apart from a physical checkup. In general, the flu is worse than the common cold and the symptoms are more intense. The common cold does not result in serious health issues whereas flu has the capacity to spiral into serious infections like pneumonia, respiratory complications, etc. if left unchecked .
Simple tips to prevent the spreading of Flu
- Ask children to wash hands with soap and water before eating and when touching nose, eyes or mouth. If soap and water is not available use a hand sanitizer.
- Make your sick kids stay at home and take plenty of rest.
- Make sure that your child is hydrated by giving lots of liquids throughout the day.
A few important things that you need to know about influenza.
There is an effective influenza vaccine available in the market which can protect you and your family from the flu. Influenza can be deadly, so don’t take it lightly or confuse it with the common cold.
In the digital meet-up, Dr. Yewale also told us that an influenza vaccine is essential every year as the virus strain keeps modifying itself. Hence, a vaccine that is effective against the current virus modification is usually released by pharmaceutical companies close to the flu season . This was new information for me and I was glad to know this.
You should remember that children below 8 years, people with asthma, heart diseases, lung diseases and anyone over the age of 60 years are at a higher risk of contracting this disease. So make sure your children and everyone else in your family get their flu shots every year.
I saw at close quarters how my unpreparedness wreaked havoc in our daily lives. I took the flu as lightly as the common cold and unwittingly helped the flu spread to my older child also. Once the illness took over our household, we could see a quick difference in our health. When I read up about the flu and finally understood the severity of the disease from the doctor, it made me realize what a close call it had been. If a simple solution like a vaccine can help contain the flu and protect your children from this dangerous disease I would ask every parent to consider this and talk to their pediatrician.
As a mom, it is very important and good practice to get our children the flu shot every year. Get information from your doctor and protect your family with the flu vaccine.
#IPromiseToStopFlu for my child. You?