Have you been complaining of body ache, a runny nose, sore throat and general inertia? Well, chances are that you have been bitten by the bug.
Health experts in the UAE have confirmed a marked increase in the number of patients being infected with the flu virus.
Speaking to Emirates24|7, Dr Suresh Menon, medical director and specialist of internal medicine at Lifeline Hospital Jebel Ali, said: “We are noticing about 25-30 per cent increase in the number of patients than the usual number seen in other times of the year.”
He reasoned that the huge migrant population in the UAE could be a contributing factor.
“Since there is a lot of air travel many new/alien viruses are brought in to the community and people are exposed to viruses they are not resistant to, especially in a country like UAE.
Although symptoms may vary from person to person, some of the common pointers according to Dr Menon are fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches and fatigue.
“Some people may have vomiting and diarrhoea, though this is more common in children than adults,” he added.
It’s an airborne illness caused by influenza virus.
Dr Menon suggested that the condition is treated using analgesics, paracetamol and antihistamines along with rest and hydration.
“It cures by itself by body antibody production. Certain people are at greater risk for serious complications if they get the flu. This includes older people, young children, pregnant women and people with certain health conditions (such as asthma, diabetes, or heart disease).”
Another medical practitioner in Al Nahda also confirmed the increase number of cases this season.
He claimed that majority of his cases had to take a full course of antibiotics.
In fact, Dubai resident S Kumar claimed he was surprised when his doctor told him that he had the viral for two weeks even when he didn’t exhibit the normal symptoms.
“I consulted my doc because I was generally feeling weak. I had no idea that I had the flu,” he added.
Another resident Natasha T complained of a relapse a few days after the first incident.
“I thought I was OK. But, a week later I was down again,” she said, adding that she was forced to rest for four days and take a full course of antibiotics.
But the issue is far from resolved. “A few days ago, I started exhibiting the exact symptoms. But, I took a flu-tab and rested at home.”
Dr Menon firmly advocated that the best precaution is to take the flu vaccine each season.
“The seasonal flu shot is approved for use in those aged 6 months and older. About two weeks after vaccination, antibodies develop that protect against influenza virus infection.”
“Personal hygiene is also extremely important like covering your mouth and nose while sneezing and coughing, use of tissues instead of hankies, and washing your hands thoroughly when in contact.”
Residents, however, complained that many healthcare centers in the emirate have run out of the flu vaccine.
“I have gone to a few clinics, and every time I have been told that the flu vaccine is unavailable,” complained Ruchira.
Dr Menon explained that the short supply is due to the increased awareness about its benefits.
“Due to the awareness drive that is going on now, (especially with the recent virus outbreaks in the last few years) more people come forward to take the vaccine voluntarily. So it becomes of short supply sometimes.”
He added that “while flu season can begin as early as October, most of the time seasonal flu activity peaks in January or later. Since it is newly released every year it comes in September and goes out of shelves by March”.
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