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Saturday 8 September 2018

Beat the Flu #MomVsFlu

My teen son is busy preparing for exams. I ensure he gets good rest and nutrition. He is healthy enough but prone to frequent attacks of cold and cough. I hope he doesn't catch the dreaded viral that seems to be affecting everyone with the changing season. 
Hmm, when I think back, I remember he was virtually born with a runny nose! 

In the last week of my pregnancy I was down with a severe bout of flu. I was horribly tired, with a constant sinus headache, aching limbs, nose blocks, well the entire package deal that comes with a flu attack! I avoided taking any medicines and went through labor in that condition itself. The baby, my son was thankfully born all normal! But within half a day I noticed the baby had trouble breathing while he was trying to feed. He'd contracted the rotten flu from me! I can't tell you what a trying ten days followed with sleepless nights and constant worrying over the tiny infant's health while I myself was still suffering from it! Eventually we both got better, after the pediatrician prescribed safe medication for us.

Back to the present, all these memories of the past came rushing back at me as I attended a blogger's event aimed at creating awareness and enlightening mothers about tackling influenza - MomVsFlu. It made me wish the flu vaccine had come into the picture back then! It could have saved me and my baby from having to suffer from all the misery of the nasty flu attack! 

The event had an eloquent, expert panel comprising pediatrician Dr Mukesh Gupta and gynaecologist Dr Uday Pai explaining various aspects of an influenza attack, ways to combat it while busting some myths as well!
Most of us dismiss a flu attack as just the "common cold" when in fact they are both not the same. 

So what is a Flu?
The Flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza virus A/B/C. A flu attack can be mild to severe depending on the person's immunity. Flu spreads by touching, coughing, sneezing by flu-affected person. Closed indoor air-conditioned environments trigger easier spread of the flu virus.
Symptoms can be mild/high fever, chills, runny/stuffy nose, sore throat, muscle aches, headaches and tiredness. Simply put, these are symptoms that can put child/adult in sheer misery as long as the flu lasts.
Flu symptoms like tiredness and headache are more troublesome for children.
With the growing menace of the H1N1/Swine flu virus which can gain epidemic proportions, it becomes all the more important to monitor seemingly innocent symptoms like these. 
People at risk to complications from influenza are pregnant women, children less than 5 years of age and elderly persons.

Pregnancy and Influenza
Dr Mukesh Gupta shared some insights on this aspect.
Immunity is low in pregnant women, their physiology of breathing is changed due to the developing foetus while the hormones affect lung secretions. These factors make an influenza attack on a pregnant women worrying. It is difficult to treat the expecting mother especially with restriction in medication that will be safe for both mother and foetus. Influenza in pregnancy can affect the mother's lung capacity leading to lower oxygen level supply to baby which may cause pre-term delivery while high grade fever in mother may lead to growth defects in baby. 

The Influenza Vaccine
They are also called flu shots/jabs and they protect against infection from the influenza virus. Since the virus keeps rapidly changing, yearly fresh vaccines are developed. The vaccine takes 4-6 weeks to develop complete immunity hence needs to be taken before an epidemic like swine flu breaks out.
The best time to take these shots would be in the months of April-May-June. In a home with babies or small children, preferably go in for a 'Samuhik' vaccination says Dr Pai so that the entire family including the babies' caretakers is protected by the vaccine.

Dr Mukesh Gupta suggests women to take the flu vaccine as a part of the pre-conceptual planning, because only a healthy body can bring a healthy baby. But if one misses out the vaccine at that stage, one can still take the vaccine safely at any point of the pregnancy. The vaccine is completely safe for the breast-feeding mothers too. 

Bollywood diva Genelia Deshmukh who graced the occasion, supports the initiative of Mothers Against Influenza (MAI)
She strongly urges all mothers to go from being Worriers to Warriors by simply talking to their pediatricians and gynaecologists to know more about influenza and staying protected with the vaccine.

Doesn't it make more sense to prevent an illness rather than treating it?
We as mothers need to make informed decisions to protect our family from becoming frequent victims to flu attacks, falling sick and needlessly suffering, especially when it is easily avoidable! 
Worldwide the flu vaccine is widely prescribed annually to combat the seasonal attack by the unfriendly flu virus. It is time we take cognizance of this fact and equip ourselves to give our dear family a flu-free life. Every pregnant lady and every mother needs to be aware of this vaccine which can make life so much better and worry-free! 
Lets go #MomVsFlu, shall we?

I urge you to take a look at this credible resource for more information on Influenza:

To find a vaccinating doctor in your locality you could simply check out this link:

I attended a discussion on influenza awareness facilitated by Abbott India Limited. 
Any opinion expressed in this blog is my personal opinion and not the opinion of Abbott India Limited. 
Abbott India Limited does not assume any liability for the content of the blog. 
The blog post is not meant to be a replacement for a doctor consultation, 
nor is it a medical recommendation or prescription of treatment for babies having Influenza. 
Any reader of this blog or their family members suffering from Influenza should specifically consult 
his/her doctor for the same and follow the suggested course of treatment. 

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