Motherhood is a constant call to be on your feet, to deal with the challenges and to learn everything possible to do it right“.

The most challenging aspect that I have faced as a mother in all these years of motherhood is protecting my child from flu & common illnesses that we fear almost every season all through the year. A flu being a common infection, we often tend to ignore the severity it can lead to in children as well in adults. I still remember those sleepless nights with my toddler who would suffer every season with runny nose, high temperature and lethargy. And as common as it seems, it can be the most uncomfortable situation one can be in with painful body ache and fever that takes good number of days for anyone to recover completely.

I would always question myself as a mother, what is it that I am not doing right to keep my baby safe and healthy. It would give me a nightmare to see my baby fall sick almost every month and suffer for almost a fortnight.
If I had a way, I would do anything possible to stay safe and prevent myself and my family against these illnesses. Sometimes a lack of awareness can lead you to suffer and I am sure there are many such parents and families who aren’t aware enough to prevent such situations.

Thanks to the mom bloggers meet that I was invited to recently with the panel of renowned doctors from Mumbai along with a Celebrity Mom supporting the cause- Genelia Deshmukh. They all shared great tips and valuable insights through the awareness program “Mothers against Influenza” that was organised especially for mothers, keeping in mind they are the prime care takers of the family.

The panel of doctors included Dr. Mukesh Gupta, a Gynaecologist/ Obstetrician with a rich experience of 16 years, who has also been awarded “The emerging star of medicine” by Indian medical association among other acclaims and Dr. UdayAnanthPai, a paediatrician with 29 years of work experience. They together brought out the facts and cleared various myths related to the illness called influenza.

Myths & Facts
Myth: We assume we are healthy and won’t catch a cold or influenza.
Fact: Everyone is susceptible to flu and our body is exposed to many risks on a daily basis

Myth: Common cold is same as flu.
Fact: Influenza is very different and we should not mistake it for common cold. Influenza needs to be treated differently.

Myth: Children going to good schools with AC will not get infected with flu.
Fact: Good school may have AC, but one infected child may spread flu to others, especially in a closed environment. So any child may get influenza.

Myth: Vaccination can be harmful during pregnancy.
Fact: Pregnant moms can take influenza vaccine at any time during their pregnancy. It is absolutely safe.

Myth: Staying indoors can protect my child from influenza.
Fact: You yourself can give your child flu! So all the family members including you must get vaccinated.

Knowing more about Influenza
Flu is a contagious respiratory infection that’s caused by influenza viruses infecting the nose, throat and lungs. It spreads easily through coughing and sneezing. An infected person can pass the infection among others in the reach of six feet. Touching infected surfaces and objects can also spread the infection among others who come in contact with the virus through touching the infected areas or things. We often mistake flu with common cold, hence it’s important to understand and recognise the symptoms of the flu to be able to treat it effectively.

Fever/ chills, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscles/ body ache, headaches and tiredness are some of the commonly known symptoms of flu. The sooner we recognise these symptoms the better we will be able to treat it.

Can we prevent influenza?
Yes we can!
The most safe and effective way to ensure prevention against flu is through Samuhik Vaccination, to give the yearly dose of vaccination not only to your child but everyone else in the family as the virus is contagious and anyone carrying it could spread it through touch, cough or sneeze.

Influenza vaccines, also known as flu shots or flu jabs, are vaccines that protect against infection by Influenza viruses. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends yearly vaccination for all over the age of six months, especially those at high risk. This is because the influenza virus rapidly changes, a new version of the vaccine is developed twice every year.

Am I equally susceptible to Flu?
Though anyone can suffer from flu, be it an adult or a child irrespective of their age and health condition, children under the age of 5yrs, pregnant women and senior citizens are more prone to catching flu due to their low immunity depending on factors like age, physical and hormonal changes taking place in the body and hence require immediate attention and care.

When is the best time to get vaccinated?
Doctors suggest its ideal for women to get vaccinated pre- conception. If not done, so any time is the good time for pregnant women to get vaccinated to protect her body from influenza viruses during the course of pregnancy. It’s always safe to get a flu shot anytime during pregnancy latest being the 7th/ 8th month to avoid any infection for at least next few months as the baby arrives.

For children, the best time of the year to take the vaccine is few months before the school reopens to avoid spread of infections from other kids at school. “April, May, June is the best period to take influenza vaccination for children and whole family for complete prevention against flu”. Vaccine may take 4 to 6 weeks to develop complete immunity in our body; hence it must be taken before any epidemic like swine flu breaks out.

How can we be more careful with the disease?

  • If you are sick with mild flu, staying at home and limiting contact with others is advisable to avoid spread of infection among them.
  • Drinking plenty of fluids will help you stay hydrated and will also help lower the body temperature in case of mild fever.
  • Adopting habits like washing hands with soap and covering your nose and mouth while sneezing can ensure others don’t get the infection around you.
  • It’s important to monitor your illness and visit the doctor after 24 – 48 hrs. and get checked.
  • In case of high fever and severe cough, an immediate medical help is recommended.
  • Taking nutritious food and proper rest will help the body recover faster.

Key take away from the event

Dr.Mukesh Gupta said, “Go take a flu vaccine, even before you can get pregnant. Only a healthy body can bring a healthy baby, preconception vaccine is important”.
Bollywood celebrity, GeneliaDeshmukh said, “All mothers must go meet your paediatricians, gynaecologist and get all questions answered about flu and staying protected with vaccination”.
Dr.UdayPai quoted, “April, May, June is the best period to take influenza vaccination for children and whole family for complete prevention against flu”.
Actress GeneliaDeshmukh also said, “No mother must be a Worrier, she’s a Warrior. Best way to tackle your questions about flu is to talking to your doctor”.

You can visit MAI Website, which is a credible source of information related to Influenza for any further queries or doubts. Also, don’t forget to consult your Doctor in your vicinity who can guide you and your family with Influenza Vaccination.

I being a mother have taken the pledge to prevent myself and my family against Influenza and get everyone vaccinated with the yearly dose without fail. How about you??

“‘Disclaimer: 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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