In Yalla’s Ask The Expert series, Dr. Hafiz Abdul Rehman, paediatrician at Kings College London Abu Dhabi advises how to protect your family during flu season.
Flu season has started in UAE, but has not peaked and hopefully will not be as bad as last year.
Flu (Influenza) is an infection of airways caused by different types of Influenza Virus. Symptoms are similar to common cold like runny nose or blocked nose, cough, sneezing, headache, muscle pain and fever. The symptoms last longer as compared to the common cold. It is a seasonal disease, more common during winter months, (October to March).
There are different types of Influenza viruses, common ones are Influenza A & B. There are many sub types of Influenza A & B. The viruses change their shape (Antigenicity) rapidly therefore each year new vaccines are required for protection.
Will I get better if I do not take any medicine?
Yes, just like common cold and other viral illnesses, body defence mechanisms will fight the infection and you will get better, most of the time by using supportive treatments like Paracetamol/Ibuprofen for fever and pain, drinking plenty of fluids for prevention of dehydration. The World Health Organization (WHO) and Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends use of antiviral medications in special cases. Antiviral medications work if started early, (within 48 hours) of the onset of symptoms.
Shall I take Flu Vaccination?
Flu vaccination is helpful for the prevention of Influenza. It takes about 2 to 4 weeks to start working; therefore, it you should take it at the beginning of the season. The flu virus changes its shape rapidly therefore each year vaccination is required.
Is it Infectious?
Flu is an infectious disease, spread from one person to another by droplet and direct contact. A person with flu, while coughing, sneezing or spitting spreads small drops containing flu virus in air, the other person breathing the same air can get the infection. Therefore, covering the mouth and nose with a bent elbow while coughing and sneezing is important. Direct contact means hands to mouth, nose or eyes from a contaminated surface or a person. Handwashing or use of alcohol gel is important, and will prevent direct transmission of the virus.
How do you diagnose flu?
Diagnosis is made on signs and symptoms confirmed by a test on a nasal swab. It is a rapid antigen test and results are available within a few minutes. Viral DNA testing is required for sub-types of viruses like H1N1, and is done in a laboratory. This test takes longer to complete.
How can I get a flu vaccine?
King’s College London Abu Dhabi can vaccinate your whole family against the flu this season. To make an appointment call 02 501 4000