It’s not just Covid-19, but also H3N2 influenza virus that is prevalent in India. The Union Health Ministry data recently revealed that over 450 cases of H3N2 virus were reported between January and March 2023 across the country. Anyone can get affected, but diabetics need to be especially more careful. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently shared that in case of the sub-type of influenza A virus, people who are at a higher risk of developing complications include elderly people, children who are younger than 5 years, pregnant women and people with health conditions like diabetes.
Health Shots connected with Dr Vijay Kumar Gurjar, Senior Consultant and Head of the Department of Geriatric Medicine, Primus Super Speciality Hospital, New Delhi, and Dr Chhavi Agrawal, Associate Consultant – Endocrinology, Fortis Escorts, Okhla Road, New Delhi.
Your loved ones can be down with fever and have cough, body aches and fatigue if their body is not able to fight H3N2 virus. It can basically cause respiratory illness in people and is highly contagious, says Dr Gurjar. The alarming bit is that it can spread rapidly, especially during the flu season.
The answer is a yes, according to Dr Gurjar, who says that the H3N2 virus can be deadly for diabetics. People living with diabetics have a weaker immune system, making them more susceptible to infections like the flu. H3N2 is known to cause severe flu symptoms and can lead to complications such as pneumonia, bronchitis, and respiratory failure in diabetics. High blood sugar levels can impair the immune response, making it difficult for the body to fight off infections.
You can stick to some preventive strategies so that your family member with diabetes doesn’t catch the H3N2 virus. They are quite similar to Covid-19 guidelines.
The best way to prevent getting the infection is to maintain hygiene, says Dr Agrawal. Frequent hand washing and regular use of face mask, especially when in public places is extremely important to minimise the risk of contracting H3N2 virus.
Along with hand hygiene, vaccination against influenza is very important. Dr Agrawal says that it is recommended to take the vaccine at least once a year, that is at the time of expected seasonal influenza outbreak. Even with vaccination, people may contract it, but it is usually mild form of infection.
Make sure your family member keeps distance from anyone who is ill or who has just been exposed to the virus. Don’t let them go to crowded or congested places, that includes taking public transport.
They should also stop the virus from spreading, so practise respiratory hygiene by covering their mouth and nose with a tissue or your elbow when they cough or sneeze, says Dr Gurjar.
It is imperative for all diabetics to keep their sugar levels in control throughout the year to minimise the risk of contracting any infectious disease and to reduce the severity of the disease, says Dr Agrawal.
In case a diabetic family member still contracts the infection, immediately contact their treating doctor for appropriate management of the disease.
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