Mumbai: The city’s worsening air quality and sudden shift in temperatures has contributed to several health problems in a week.

People across Mumbai are infected by influenza as their immunity level has been altered post the Covid-19 pandemic. According to the doctors, patients have been complaining of fever, cough, and breathlessness.

They said uncontrollable cough, with or without wheezing, was a frequent symptom. Moreover, doctors have cautioned against the indiscriminate use of antibiotics and self-medication to treat the flu.

Influenza cases expected to rise

Senior doctors and physicians said the citizens were wearing masks during the pandemic to avoid contracting any infections due to which they had developed immunity against Covid after the vaccines, however, immunity to other viral infections has reduced due to which number of people contracting influenza has increased over a week and which is likely to increase more in coming days.

“People were very less exposed to influenza or respiratory syncytial virus as all were using masks which lowered their body’s immunity to fight against other illnesses. But now masks have gone and the infection rate has increased. Moreover, the study published in the Journal of American Medical Association noted rapidity of transmission of flu in the post-pandemic period,” said doctors. Moreover, flu vaccines are not very popular in developing countries like India, but they are advantageous for people with comorbid conditions like diabetes, hypertension, asthma and Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Respiratory viruses becoming more frequent

A senior health official said cases of influenza and other respiratory viruses, such as the respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and H1N1 (swine flu) are now being seen more frequently.

“We are seeing an upward trend in influenza cases, mostly H3N2, particularly in the last 15 days. Many patients are complaining of persistent dry cough for up to a few weeks. Bouts of cough can be so severe as to cause blackouts. People with lung and heart conditions are presenting with more severe conditions, including pneumonia, that need hospitalisation,” he said.

Meanwhile, the chest and fever OPDs of public and private hospitals continue to see a massive number of patients with respiratory complaints like lingering cough, cold, runny nose, wheezing, throat irritation, and breathing difficulties. Doctors said both children and adults are severely affected by these respiratory issues, with an estimated 5-10% requiring hospitalisation.

“The elderly aged above 75 years and those with compromised immunity due to comorbidities may have severe symptoms, especially due to secondary bacterial infection, and require ICU care. The susceptible population of the elderly and the immunocompromised should avoid crowded places and take the flu vaccine in time,” said a senior doctor from the civic-run hospital.

Change in weather, no masks making things worse

Moreover, apart from the change in weather conditions, which is an important factor, there is a drastic reduction in the wearing of masks which makes respiratory viral illnesses more contagious.

Improper disposal of waste, water storage and poor hygienic conditions have led to increased infections of dengue and malaria.

State surveillance officer Dr Pradip Awate, said, “High-grade fever, body aches, sore throat, headaches and loose stools are the most common symptoms. Proper hydration, a nutritious diet and adequate rest are the mainstay of treatment. In case of warning signs, it's advisable to see your doctor.”

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