H3N2 Influenza: Beware Of These Signs & Symptoms, Take Precautions

Source: Urban Affairs Kerala 2023

H3N2 influenza is a viral respiratory illness that affects humans and can cause mild to severe symptoms. While the illness is usually mild in most people, some may develop a severe disease and require hospitalization. In India, the H3N2 influenza subtype has been spreading quickly, with 90 cases and 2 deaths reported so far. It is crucial to be aware of the warning signs and symptoms of severe disease so that one can seek medical attention promptly.

The signs and symptoms of severe H3N2 influenza can vary from person to person, but generally, the following symptoms may indicate a more severe illness. According to Dr. Jayalakshmi TK, Consultant, Pulmonology, Apollo Hospitals, Navi Mumbai, the following signs of severe illness can occur in H3N2 influenza patients:

1) Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath: This can indicate the onset of pneumonia or other respiratory complications. In severe cases, it can lead to respiratory failure, which can be life-threatening.

2) Severe or persistent vomiting: Severe vomiting could indicate severe H3N2 flu, you should seek medical attention immediately. This can lead to dehydration, which can further worsen the illness.

3) Dehydration: Inadequate fluid intake due to vomiting or diarrhea can lead to dehydration in H3N2 influenza, requiring prompt medical attention. Dehydration can lead to low blood pressure, which can be life-threatening.

4) Low blood pressure: Severe H3N2 flu, dehydration, or sepsis may cause low blood pressure, leading to organ failure or death. It is recommended to seek urgent medical attention.

5) High rate of breathing: High breathing rate is a sign of severe H3N2 flu, especially with breathing difficulty or low oxygen saturation.  This can be a sign of respiratory failure and requires urgent medical attention.

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H3N2 influenza can exacerbate chronic medical conditions such as asthma or diabetes, requiring close monitoring and management. People with pre-existing conditions are at a higher risk of developing severe disease.

a) Bluish lips or face: Bluish lips or face can indicate low blood oxygen levels, common with severe respiratory infections like pneumonia, which can complicate H3N2 influenza.

b) Seizures or convulsions: Seizures or convulsions may occur with severe influenza or viral infections due to fever or brain inflammation, requiring immediate medical attention.

c) Confusion or disorientation: Confusion or disorientation may indicate severe influenza or viral infections causing fever or brain inflammation, requiring prompt medical attention as a medical emergency.

d) High fever that persists for more than three days: This is a common symptom of H3N2 influenza, as well as other types of influenza, and can be a sign of a more severe case of the illness.

e) Extreme fatigue or weakness: Extreme fatigue or weakness is a common symptom of H3N2 influenza, caused by the body’s energy consumption to fight the virus. It can last for several weeks after the other symptoms have resolved.

f) Chest pain or pressure: This can be a symptom of pneumonia or other respiratory complications.

g) Low oxygen saturation (hypoxemia): H3N2 influenza can cause respiratory symptoms such as coughing, shortness of breath, and chest tightness, leading to low oxygen levels in severe cases. Hypoxemia requires urgent medical attention.

Source: Times Of India

In conclusion, it is important to take steps to lower the risk of H3N2 influenza, such as maintaining a healthy lifestyle and seeking timely medical attention if experiencing any symptoms. Additionally, a strong primary care system with access to a full-time model for doctors can help overcome barriers to treatment and ensure timely and effective care for individuals with H3N2 influenza. Being aware of the signs and symptoms of severe disease caused by H3N2 influenza and taking steps to lower the risk of infection and seek timely medical attention can help protect individuals and prevent the spread of this infectious disease.

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