Flu: Feeling nauseous? It’s time to see a doctor

Flu: Feeling nauseous? It’s time to see a doctor
Posted 12 Apr 2023 | Source: https://bangaloremirror.indiatimes.com/

Patients infected with flu complain of gastrointestinal problems such as vomiting and diarrhea; doctors advise against self-medication

Swine flu is reportedly causing digestive issues such as vomiting and diarrhea. These symptoms can lead to hospitalisations if they persist for over 24 hours and cause dehydration. Patients infected with H3N2 are experiencing these gastrointestinal symptoms in addition to typical flu-like symptoms such as fever and malaise.

Doctors warn of an increase in severity compared to previous flu seasons, partly due to people being protected from the influenza virus over the past three years, thanks to covid-19 appropriate behavior such as wearing masks, social distancing, and hand hygiene. Not being infected for 2-3 years has led to a situation where people do not have the antibodies necessary for herd immunity. Some doctors have reported seeing cases as early as the first week of December last year. The severity of the illness is causing occasional cases of sinusitis, acute urinary infections, viral pneumonia, and bacterial pneumonia.

Doctors are currently seeing 10-15 cases per day with these symptoms, including gastrointestinal symptoms, and expect the number of cases to increase further. They warn that the lack of covid-19 precautions, such as not wearing masks, is contributing to the spread of H3N2, which is currently on a rampage. Another factor is the sudden change in weather. While flu season disturbances of gastrointestinal disorders are not uncommon, more cases could be due to the high number of H3N2 cases.

According to a virologist, covid-19 is not directly responsible for prolonged flu cases, but the negligible cases of flu in the past three years have reduced immunity and caused the surge. Immunity against flu went down, and vulnerability to the same went up.

Doctors advise against self-medication and suggest seeking advice from a healthcare professional, taking antibiotics only when necessary, and getting a flu shot after consulting with a doctor. They also suggest masking, social distancing, and staying away from crowded places as effective strategies.

Further, they advise people not to panic as previous H3N2 outbreaks in different countries did not assume pandemic proportions but to remain vigilant.

Dr Swati Rajagopal, Consultant - Infectious Disease and Travel Medicine, Aster CMI Hospital, Bengaluru said, “Rising cases of covid-19, along with influenza A, B, sub variant H3N2, RSV, and adenovirus virus infection in adults have been reported in last one month. Such a volume of influenza cases was not reported in last 3 years due to emphasis on covid-19. It is more likely that omicron off spring XBB 1.15 and XBB 1.16 could be responsible for riding cases.”

She added that these variants are reported to have greater transmissibility and infectivity. However, the pre existing immunity along with vaccination status of the community could be important factors. So far the majority of reported cases appears to have mild infection, and appear to settle in a week.

Cases will rise

QTesting of H3N2, a sub-variant of swine flu, is not happening much. According to Dr Burri Ranga Reddy, president of the Infection Control Society of India, the virus is currently spreading fast and wide, and we will continue to see an upward trend in cases until they reach a peak.

The absence of social distancing, masks, and hand hygiene makes it conducive for the virus to spread rapidly. The cases are expected to rise for the next 3-4 weeks, he said.