I would regularly be requested by my neighbour to drive her and her toddler to the hospital almost every month during the cold season. He would miss playtime, school, and extracurricular classes and she would keep missing work due to this saga. By the seventh time, I realized that despite the doctor saying it was the flu, she would always dismiss it as a common cold until it got worse.
I recently attended a Facebook Live Interview with Dr Sadanand S. Shetye a neonatologist and paediatrician (Moralwar NICU and Child Care, Navi Mumbai) and Dr Mangesh Tiwaskar a consultant physician and diabetologist (Shilpa Medical Research Centre, Mumbai). That’s when I found that influenza is not the same as a common cold.
Influenza and the common cold are both contagious respiratory illnesses but, are caused by different viruses. When one gets a common cold, their symptoms, like runny nose, sneezing and chest congestion are mostly harmless and subside within a couple of weeks. Our home remedies are usually enough to control these symptoms.1 I normally resort to turmeric in milk or merely a mix of honey, cinnamon and pepper to take the discomfort away.
Influenza aka ‘flu’, on the other hand, is caused by influenza viruses that are a little more attention-seeking. Besides a runny nose and chest congestion, it has further symptoms like fever, chills, cough, muscle aches, headaches, fatigue, etc. Sounds familiar? Yes, this is an illness that infects the lungs along with the throat and nose thereby forcing our bodies to rest and continuously drink several fluids. Influenza infections generally spread during the monsoon and winter seasons and can be serious, especially for kids with vulnerable immune systems and adults with chronic illnesses.2
So, I advised my neighbour to check with her paediatrician about the flu shot that protects the body against several influenza viruses. The vaccine acts as active immunization against influenza by causing the body to produce its antibodies.3 The paediatrician will do a body check-up before prescribing the vaccine for you or your child.
The flu shot is available every year for anyone above the age of 6 months. This vaccination is imperative for those who are at a high risk of serious complications from influenza or those with a weak immune system.3
My neighbour got back to me and thanked me for advising her to check about the influenza vaccine. She said that it gave her peace of mind and saved her a lot of unnecessary expenses of medications and doctor visits.
With frequent changes in weather conditions and kids returning to ‘offline’ school, I would suggest that, if your child is catching the flu more often than acceptable, do check with your paediatrician about the flu vaccination. We all strive to do our best for our kids and keep them safe from all the viruses flying around us. So, I’m sure you will agree that giving your child this annual vaccination is a must.
Does your child get sick often? Have you checked with your doctor about the flu vaccination yet?
If you found this helpful, do share it with those who need to realize that it’s time for them to consider getting the flu shot to #FightAgainstFlu.
Feature photo by cottonbro