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Written by Dr.Swati Rajagopal

As the winter progresses, Bengaluru is back in the clutches of the persistent influenza virus. With several cases being brought to the notice of physicians, city-dwellers are being advised to take precautions that will help prevent the virus altogether. At Bowring Hospital, upto 70% of the OPD cases are for this “seasonal flu,” a common infection spread through coughs and sneezes. What’s more, it’s important not to neglect influenza symptoms, because they might indicate a much more serious underlying problem, like H1N1, which is often mistaken for its less harmful counterpart.

“The flu can be very unpleasant, as it causes fever, body ache, sore throat and a cough, all at once,” said Dr Chikkanarasappa Reddy, Assistant Professor of Paediatrics, Bowring Hospital. Stressing the importance of preventive measures, he remarked, “Sometimes, a very small infection can have severe consequences.”

Simple lifestyle changes, comprising a well-rounded diet rich in vitamins and antioxidants, good cough etiquette, washing hands regularly with soap and water and staying home from work when one has the flu could help prevent its spread, explained Dr Swati Rajagopal, a consultant Physician and Specialist in Infectious Diseases and Travel Medicine, Columbia Asia Referral hospital, Yeshwantpur.

It is imperative that flu symptoms be taken note of after a point, Dr Swati explained. “One never knows if a simple seasonal flu could actually be a H1N1 symptom,” she said. “Many symptoms of the virus are similar to that of the seasonal flu, although there are warning signs that need immediate medical attention.” These include shortness of breath, persistent diarrhoea, vomiting or unrelenting fever, Dr Swati added. An annual flu vaccine or antiviral medication is sometimes recommended for those who are at greater risk, said Dr Reddy.

“This is necessary for people who have congenital heart disease, chronic lung disease, immune deficiency or malnutrition,” he explained.

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