This winter, keep influenza at bay

Influenza cases peak in winter and just after the monsoon. At times, the flu can be deadly. Experts advise quick medical attention to prevent it


Seasonal influenza is characterised by a sudden onset of high fever, cough), headache, muscle and joint pain, severe malaise (feeling unwell), sore throat and runny nose. Dr Pratit Samdani, General Physician from Jaslok Hospital said, “It is a very common communicable disease which affects young, elderly, diabetics, those who have Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), lung diseases and other malignancies. So, if they have symptoms of influenza like fever, cough and cold and sneezing get it treated. Stay away from people who are sick. Don’t venture during the dawn and the dusk. Hydrate, rest, vitamin C intake helps fight the infections. It is preventable up to 70 to 80 percent through vaccination.”

It spreads easily from person to person, through sneezing, coughing, or touching contaminated surfaces, overcrowding and poor sanitation said experts. Dr Sanjay Pathare, Medical Director of Ruby Hall Clinic Pune said, “Because of weather change and the pre onset of winter period, we are getting many cases of kids and adults getting diagnosed with viral flu. The most important preventive measure is to consume healthy food to boost the immunity system. If you are already suffering from flu, ensure that you take a good liquid diet. There are different types in flues and one must visit doctor immediately if one notices rise in body temperature or any other irregularity.”

So, according to the experts, ‘Prevention is better than cure’. Dr Gautam Bhansali, a consulting general physician at Bombay Hospital informed, “In winter, sore throat, cold, cough, influenza viral infection is persistent. To prevent it, avoid consuming cold food stuff, cream biscuits and drink luke warm water. Ac’s direct flow shouldn’t be on the face. Avoid contact with cold water.”

It is also important to build up a good immunity system said experts, “Food rich in vitamin C like amla, oranges, sweet lime and lemon should be consumed to prevent respiratory tract infections. Drink tulsi and ginger tea as it prevents cold and fever and boosts the immunity. Incorporate sesame seeds, mustard, asafoetida, black pepper and fenugreek, which aid digestion. Eat nuts like almonds and walnuts and dry fruits like raisins, apricots, prunes and figs. Avoid fried and junk food,” said Pooja Udeshi, Sports nutritionist and certified diabetes educator and practicing at Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital.

Symptoms and treatment:

  • Symptoms: Sudden onset of high fever, cough (usually dry), headache, muscle and joint pain, severe malaise (feeling unwell), sore throat and runny nose
  • Spreads through sneezing, coughing or touching contaminated surfaces. The virus can also be spread by hands contaminated with influenza viruses
  • Seasonal influenza viruses cause annual epidemics that peak during winter in temperate regions. India witnesses two influenza peaks, one in winter and the other just after monsoon
  • Pregnant women at any stage of pregnancy, children aged between 6 months to 5 years, elderly individuals (aged more than 65 years) and individuals with chronic medical conditions
  • WHO recommends annual vaccination for: pregnant women at any stage of pregnancy, children aged 6 months to 5 years, elderly individuals and individuals with chronic medical conditions, health-care workers
  • To prevent influenza transmission, people should cover their mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing, and wash their hands regularly