Influenza, better known as the flu, is often perceived by the public to be a viral infection causing fever and headache for a few days. But recent studies have found that its effects might be more adverse than previously observed.
The flu mainly affects a person's respiratory system, i.e., the lungs, nose, and throat, but its effects propagate throughout the body. The risk of heart attack increases tenfold a week after infection in people of all ages , and the risk of hospitalization , and death increases sixfold for diabetic patients .
Other complications include a much higher likeliness of a first stroke or a heart attack among adults aged 40 and above. It also causes an eightfold increase in getting pneumonia for children under 14 . You can mitigate these risks by taking an influenza vaccine.
Flu vaccines are available for individuals of all ages, including individuals with comorbidities. The vaccination is known to reduce any flu-related incidences in people suffering from such acute respiratory ailments .
People, especially those suffering from COPD, have seen a significant decrease in influenza-related hospitalizations after taking a flu vaccine . Although all COPD patients should take the flu vaccination shot, it is ideally recommended for individuals with an FEV1 of around 30-49% .
FEV1, or forced expiratory volume, measures the air a person exhales during a forced exhalation. COPD patients should have around 50-70% FEV1, but any lower than that makes it a severe case .
Asthmatic patients are also recommended to get a flu vaccine, as and when possible, to reduce any severe complications that might arise. Influenza is known to cause respiratory issues in asthma cases; hence a vaccination will decrease hospitalization by 59-78% .
All in all, influenza is a highly overlooked virus that causes more harm than people perceive it to. We recommend everyone speak to their doctors or paediatricians on the benefit of influenza vaccination.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) classifies India under the South Asia transmission Zone of flu circulation which is more aligned with the Southern Hemisphere (SH) Strain#.
If you're looking to read more about influenza and its vaccination, you can visit Protection Beyond Flu or Ask a doctor by booking an appointment here.
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 Bouter, et al., Effect of epidemic influenza on ketoacidosis, pneumonia and death in diabetes mellitus: a hospital register survey of 1976-1979 in The Netherlands, 1991
 Allard R et al., Diabetes and the severity of pandemic influenza A (H1N1) infection, 2010
 Influenza: the green book, chapter 19, www.gov.uk/government/publications/influenza-the-green-book-chapter-19 Warren-Gash, Eur respir J, 2018, 2. Barker, et al. Arch Intern2Med 1998; 158(6):645-650, 3. Samson et al. J Diabetes Sci Technol. 2019 Nov 20:1932296819883340, 4: Kubale et al., Clin Inf Dis, 2020
 bmcpulmmed.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12890-017-0420-8#:~:text=Influenza%20is%20a%20frequent%20cause,%2C%20substantial%20healthcare%2Drelated%20costs www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/01/190123124719.htm#:~:text=%22Despite%20these%20severe%20outcomes%2C%20we,hospitalizations%20among%20patients%20with%20COPD.
 Hui-Chuan Chang et al., The Effectiveness of Influenza Vaccination on Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease with Different Severities of Airflow Obstruction, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8470496/ G lmisal G der et al., "GOLD or lower limit of normal definition? a comparison with expert-based diagnosis of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in a prospective cohort-study"www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3299632/ Vasileiou E, Sheikh A, Butler C, Ferkh KE, Wissmann BV, McMenamin J, et al; Effectiveness of influenza vaccines in asthma: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Clin Infect Dis. 2017 Oct;65(8):1388-1395. Available at: pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28591866/[#] acvip.org/professional/columns/influenza-vaccine
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