With temperatures plunging in different parts of the country and heavy rainfall occurring in a few areas, we could see the onset of an increase in colds and flu. Weather experts say that this year, La Nina (cooling phase of the El Nino Southern Oscillation phenomenon (ENSO)) will bring colder and wetter winter months. This is why people can get the seasonal flu more often in 2021.Also Read – UK May Be Forced To Lock Down Omicron As London Declares ‘Major Incident’
How does Covid-19 affect the flu?
The symptoms of COVID19 and the common cold / flu overlap with the same being fever, body aches, chills, sore throat, fatigue, etc. COVID19 exhibits an array of distinguishing signs such as loss of smell and taste, among others. The past year has barely seen an increase or increase in the number of influenza cases. This can be attributed to the following: Also Read – Northern India Shivers Amid Cold Snap: IMD Says Condition Likely To List In These States Until Dec 21 | Details here
- Physical distancing
- Wear masks
- Maintain hand hygiene regularly
- Increased emphasis on hygiene and cleanliness in public / shared spaces
- Less travel, avoiding crowds
Data suggests that 2020 only had about 2,752 influenza cases. However, 2019, the year before the pandemic, had huge numbers, such as 28,798 cases. India is not the only country with such reduced numbers of influenza during these pandemic years. Several medical and scientific journals have said that some countries have not even seen the epidemic of seasonal flu. Read also – Karnataka detects six new cases of Omicron; State count reaches 14
While that might sound like a good note, epidemiologists have questioned whether we should be celebrating. Limited or no flu testing may be one reason for the big difference in the numbers. So, we can’t really be sure of the actual stats unless people get tested more often. In addition, reduced lack of circulation and exposure to pathogens such as influenza virus and respiratory syncytial virus (which causes severe pneumonia) can decrease herd immunity. This side effect, in turn, can stimulate more serious and virulent epidemics.
However, easing COVID19 standards, resuming physical environments such as schools and offices, and reducing cases of coronavirus infection could still stem the flu or the flu this year. Additionally, due to low numbers last year, scientists can’t really predict which flu strains will be the most dominant this season. It is therefore essential to remain vigilant and take the necessary precautions against the disease.
Here are some points to protect against the flu
- Get vaccinated every year – The flu shot is just as important as the COVID19 vaccine. It is crucial that adults, children and the elderly receive their flu shots. Pregnant women and children are very vulnerable to influenza and pneumonia; we must prioritize their vaccination. Common side effects of the vaccine may include pain at the injection site, fever, chills, etc. Intramuscular injections and intranasal sprays for influenza are available for use
- Avoid touching your face – do not rub your eyes, nose or mouth to prevent germs from entering your body
- Stay away from sick people, as the flu is contagious, and stay home in case you feel sick
- Maintain the sequence of washing hands and disinfecting regularly
- Boost Your Immune System – Run or do other physical activity for 30 minutes a day, get vitamins, antioxidants, and a nutrient-dense diet. Finally, get at least 7 hours of sleep
(Written by Dr Sandeep Patil, Chief Intensivist, Fortis Hospital, Kalyan)