Dr. Reza - Specialist in Treating Influenza

Many a times, we term common cold and fever as the ‘flu’. Pulmonary specialists, like me, deal with patients with Influenza on a daily basis in the Indian cities, like Kolkata. The influenza virus is not the cause behind your common cold. Influenza is responsible for much more serious ailments than just a cold.

Influenza is a very ‘infectious’ upper respiratory tract disease. It is transferred easily from one person to another through close contact or from the germs spread by coughing and sneezing.

Symptoms of Influenza

It takes a few days for the influenza infection to grow. The first indications of influenza are:

  • Aching throat
  • Stinging eyes
  • Queasiness and vomiting
  • Dry cough
  • Fever
  • Body pain
  • Loss of appetite
  • Days or weeks of tiredness.
Effects of Influenza

If you have a weak immune system, then influenza can have serious or life-threatening effects. You can be infected by other illnesses after influenza weakens your body’s resistances. The problems arising due to this can be:

  • Pneumonia
  • Sinusitis
  • Lung infection
  • Inner ear infection
  • Swelling of the brain, nervous system and kidneys
  • Health issues, like diabetes, chronic bronchitis or heart failure can deteriorate.

You maybe more prone to suffering from the problems associated with influenza, if you have:

  • Chronic chest ailments like asthma, chronic bronchitis, emphysema, bronchiectasis and cystic fibrosis
  • High sugar levels in blood
  • Anemia
  • Heart disease
  • Kidney disease
  • You are weak and old living in nursing homes
  • Taking medications like corticosteriods or other drugs.
Prevention of Influenza

Prevention is always better than cure. To avoid falling prey to the influenza virus, it is necessary that you

  • Lead a healthy routine of nutritious diet and exercises
  • Not smoke
  • Take a flu vaccine. However, this may change every year as the influenza virus keeps changing and new varieties occur. This is especially important if you have a high risk of contracting severe infection
  • The physicians, nurses and caregivers attending these patients must also be vaccinated.
Treatment of Influenza

If you have not been able to prevent the virus from infecting you, then immediate treatment is very essential. Being a specialist in lung diseases, I usually recommend

  • Bed rest and paracetamols for body pains and fever due to influenza
  • Sometimes, aspirin for adults. Aspirin for children is an absolute no as it has fatal results like Reye’s Syndrome that affects the liver
  • Depending on my diagnosis of the severity of influenza and its associated effects on your immune system, I sometimes prescribe antibiotics to prevent other infections, especially if you have chronic chest illness
  • If you are above 12 years and visit me within 48 hours of the first symptoms, then I may administer Relenza or Tamiflu. These do not have any serious side effects.
Side effects of the Influenza Vaccine

You cannot contract influenza from the vaccine injection. The flu vaccine contains a part of the flu virus that protects you from the disease.

Normally, you will not react to the vaccination. Some patients may complain of:

  • Puffed up red tender area where the vaccine was given
  • Fever
  • Chest symptoms may get aggravated but not for more than 2 days
  • If you are allergic to eggs, try not to get inoculated unless unavoidable as the vaccine is produced in eggs.

Despite this, you may get influenza more than once as there are 3 types of virus families, with many sub-families, against which your antibodies may not have sufficient defence, so your flu vaccine maybe ineffective. A new virus appears every 10 years that your existing immune system cannot fight.

** This site is for patient information only **