Intermittent rain this winter season has brought the temperatures down sharply time and again. So much so that the weather has become ideal for the growth of several disease-causing organisms such as virus and bacteria.
Whosoever is falling sick this season is scared of being the next victim of the dreaded swine flu and doctors are having a hard time convincing them that they may be suffering from merely normal flu.
“Disease-causing bacteria and virus grow faster in this climate. That is why more people fall sick when there is even the slightest of change in weather. It could be normal flu and not necessarily swine flu. People, however, have already started panicking,” said Dr SP Byotra, chairman, department of medicine, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital.
As a result, the out-patient department (OPD) rush of people running moderate to high fever has gone up two-fold in city hospitals and clinics.
“There is a significant rise of about 40% in my OPD and the primary reason is the fear of having contracted swine flu. I am getting nearly 25-30 cases of normal flu daily these days,” said Dr Supriya Bali, senior consultant, internal medicine, Max Healthcare.
Paediatricians are also getting panic calls from worried parents whose children are suffering from flu-like symptoms. “Obviously parents don’t want to take a chance. But thankfully this time the situation isn’t as bad as it was in 2009. I am getting calls from parents wanting to know if the child has swine flu but it isn’t as crazy this time,” said Dr Anupam Sibal, senior consultant, department of paediatrics, Apollo Hospital. “This time because there is swine flu hype, parents are a little cautious,” Dr Sibal added.
Viral infections such as swine flu and common flu typically affect the upper respiratory tract, and result in symptoms such as a cough, runny or blocked nose, sore throat, etc along with moderate to high fever.
In swine flu, these symptoms are more severe and the person also feels excessively breathless. The symptoms can occur without fever as well. If the symptoms are severe and don’t go away after two days or appear to be getting worse, then one needs to see a doctor.
The virus has spread within the community across the city, and the only way to control it is by taking preventive measures.
“We don’t get transported cases of H1N1 anymore. Ninety per cent of the people suffering from the infection haven’t travelled abroad. And it is because of droplet infection that is spreading through the air. Eating pork or chicken definitely doesn’t cause the infection,” said a senior doctor at RML Hospital.
“Even if it’s swine flu, there is no need to panic because the disease behaves just like any other seasonal flu and is self-limiting, needing mostly symptomatic treatment,” added Dr Byotra.
However, self-medication should be avoided; especially random popping of antibiotics that can result in drug resistance.