UAE: Seasonal flu cases likely to increase as mask rules ease, say doctors

Medical professionals recommend taking the influenza vaccine, eating foods rich in vitamin-C



by

Nandini Sircar

Published: Fri 11 Mar 2022, 5:03 PM

Last updated: Fri 11 Mar 2022, 10:28 PM

Medics in the UAE highlight that influenza cases have gone up in recent weeks, with these numbers likely to increase as more people reduce masking up.

They also explain that health facilities experience as much as a 25 per cent increase in the number of patient visits whenever the weather season changes in the country.

While Covid-19 numbers are receding, seasonal flu seems to be affecting the population.

Dr Shyam Rajamohan, Specialist Internal Medicine Prime Hospital, said, "The number of patients coming to the clinic with flu-like symptoms has increased in recent weeks."

"Flu can sometimes be dangerous to high-risk people like elderly people with chronic diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure, heart diseases, chronic lung, liver, kidney diseases. Hence, it is extremely important to take the flu vaccine yearly to prevent influenza and complications of influenza. But the total number of Covid-19 cases in the UAE has decreased significantly. However, the number of flu cases can be expected to go up if the use of masks reduces."

"There has always been an increase in the number of patient visits in the clinic every time there's a shift in the weather. This is a regular occurrence every year. Health facilities experience as much as a 25 per cent increase in the number of patient visits whenever the season changes. Aside from maintaining a healthy lifestyle, we doctors encourage our patients to go for their influenza vaccination during the flu season," points out Dr Daffodils Guevarra, General Practitioner, Prime Medical Center – Deira.

Elaborating on the causes that affect the human body adversely, Dr Sherif Fayed Consultant Pulmonologist, Al Zahra Hospital Dubai underlines, "With the changing temperature people are falling sick with flu like symptoms as the season changes from winter to summer. This is also happening as the weather outside is hot and people step out from the indoors where there is air conditioning to an outside temperature which is quite hot."

"Another scenario is when people exercise outside, and they sweat and then immediately after they go inside into the AC. This can lead to drop in immunity levels. It happens more during winter season as compared to the summer season."

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Doctors advise boosting one's immunity by consuming healthy foods and maintaining a disciplined lifestyle.

People should consume vitamin C rich fruits. Additionally, hydrating could help the cause while avoiding sudden changes in temperatures by walking in and out of extreme temperatures.

"Just wait a few minutes at the door allowing your body to get acclimatized to the change in temperature," adds Fayed.

They further explain that every flu season is different and can affect people in many ways.

Dr Syed Nadir, Medical Director & Head of Medical Department, Adam Vital Hospital said, "Millions of people get flu every year, hundreds of thousands of people are hospitalized and thousands to tens of thousands of people die from flu-related causes every year. Flu can mean a few days of feeling bad and missing work, or it can result in more serious illness. Flu might also result in bacterial pneumonia ear infections and worsening of chronic medical conditions."

Healthcare professionals further say September and October are good times to be vaccinated against flu. Ideally, everyone should be vaccinated by the end of October.

However, if individuals cannot get vaccinated until November or later, vaccination is still recommended.

For those wanting to be vaccinated for both Covid-19 and influenza, healthcare professionals recommend a gap of at least two weeks in between vaccinations.

Dr Nadir further says, "One of the common questions asked by patients in my clinic is 'do I need to get vaccinated for flu every year?' I tell them that the flu vaccine is needed every year for two reasons."

"First, a person's immune protection from vaccination declines over time, so an annual flu vaccine is needed for optimal protection. Second, because flu viruses are constantly changing, the composition of flu vaccines is reviewed annually, and vaccines are updated to protect against the viruses that research indicates will be most common during the upcoming flu season."


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