This year, medical professionals anticipate a significant increase in the number of people infected with influenza, and they are urging patients and the general public to maintain their health by adopting preventative measures against the illness. “Like many respiratory infections, the flu may be prevented,” says David Cutler, MD, family medicine physician at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California. It is possible to avoid the spread of disease by staying away from other people, washing your hands frequently, sneezing into your arm instead of your hand, wearing a mask, and staying away from others when you are sick. Complications from the flu can be avoided by maintaining proper hydration, taking over-the-counter medication to alleviate symptoms, and properly managing other chronic conditions such as diabetes and asthma.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention “estimates that flu has resulted in 9 million – 41 million illnesses, 140,000 – 710,000 hospitalizations and 12,000 – 52,000 deaths annually between 2010 and 2020,” and they have recently released a new report that finds influenza hospitalization rates (hospitalizations per 100,000 population) were higher among non-Hispanic Black (Black) (rate ratio [RR] = 1.8), American Indian or Alaska Native (AI/AN; RR = 1.3), and Hispan
Even among people who said they had medical insurance, a personal health care provider, and a normal medical checkup in the previous year, there was still a gap in the number of people who had been vaccinated according to their race and ethnicity.
Professor of public health at New Mexico State University Dr. Jagdish Khubchandani, MBBS, Ph.D., tells us that “while this report focuses mostly on racial disparities in vaccination and hospitalizations, there are several other factors that can increase the risk of hospitalization from flu or COVID-19.” Numerous research has helped prove beyond a reasonable doubt the importance of these parameters.
According to Mohammed Albouidani, MD, FACP, an internal medicine specialist at Beverly Hospital and proprietor of his private practice, others ought to be concerned as well. People who are less than two years old, people who are 65 years old or older, pregnant women, and people who have certain medical conditions are all at a heightened risk of serious flu-related complications among young children. “Certain people are at increased risk of serious flu-related complications among young children.” Continue reading, and make sure you don’t miss any of these sure signs that you’ve already had COVID to protect not only your health but also the health of others.
According to Dr. Khubchandani, “Diabetes and other chronic diseases, such as neuromuscular disorders or other allergy or endocrine disease, make our immune systems weaker by numerous processes.”  (e.g., disruption of white blood cell function and metabolism). When this happens, the ability to mount appropriate immune responses to the influenza virus and the defense system that protects against it are both compromised. As a direct consequence of this, the incidence of hospitalization, pneumonia, admission to an intensive care unit (ICU), the need for mechanical ventilation, and death practically doubles among diabetics who contract the flu.
“People with diabetes (type 1, type 2, or gestational), even when well-managed, are at a higher risk of having serious flu complications,” which can end in hospitalization and occasionally even death. This information comes from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A few instances of complications that might arise from the flu include pneumonia, bronchitis, sinus infections, and ear infections. During the most recent flu seasons, approximately thirty percent of adult patients hospitalized with influenza and reported to the CDC had diabetes. In addition, acute illnesses such as the flu might make it more difficult to keep your blood sugar levels under control. It’s possible that having the flu will cause your blood sugar to rise, but it’s also possible that you won’t feel like eating when you’re unwell, and a diminished appetite can lead to lower blood sugar levels. Diabetics need to adhere to the prescribed parameters for taking sick leave if they become ill.
Dr. Khubchandani states, “People who suffer from lung disorders, particularly chronic lung problems like asthma, chronic bronchitis, emphysema, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), have a higher risk of being admitted to a hospital or intensive care unit. In addition to wreaking havoc on the immune system, disorders of this nature can also cause constriction of the lung airways, as well as swelling and blockage; this, in turn, makes it more difficult to breathe. Inflammation, damage, and disruption of immune function in the lungs may make it difficult to fight the influenza virus and may further deteriorate lung function if an influenza infection develops.”
The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America has concluded that “The influenza virus is the causative agent of the highly contagious and easily spreadable respiratory illness known as the flu. It can cause moderate to severe illness. Every year, the influenza virus is responsible for thousands of hospitalizations and fatalities, including those of otherwise healthy children and adults. If you suffer from asthma, the flu could make your symptoms worse. It can cause your airways to expand, which will make breathing more difficult. Symptoms of asthma, an asthma episode, or an asthma attack may be triggered as a result of this. If you suffer from asthma, preventing the flu is one of the most critical things you can do for yourself. There are a lot of people who recover from the flu without any complications. But if you have asthma, you are more likely to experience major health complications from the flu.”
Dr. Khubchandani says, “There is a lot of research suggesting that there is a connection between having a stroke or heart disease and having a higher chance of having poorer outcomes if you have the flu. Some people believe that the influenza virus itself may raise the chance of developing heart disease because it causes a release of blood indicators that are pro-clotting and inflammatory (i.e. cytokines). In addition, influenza has been linked to an increased risk of blood vessel malfunction, an increase in blood thickness, and a faster cardiac rate. People who already have heart disease or a history of stroke should exercise caution when exposed to influenza since it raises the likelihood that they may develop pneumonia and require hospitalization. This is true regardless of the direction in which the cause-and-effect relationship runs. To our great relief, several studies have demonstrated that receiving vaccinations lowers such chances.”
According to research published in the Texas Heart Institute Journal, the flu may be the cause of some heart attacks. According to the findings of the study, the number of people killed by influenza could be higher. “The influenza virus is a considerable contributor to both morbidity and mortality. The term “the flu” is responsible for 110,000 hospitalizations annually in the United States alone, with direct expenses ranging from one to three billion dollars and indirect costs ranging from ten to fifteen billion dollars. Newer estimates, which are generated from epidemiologic data, cite 36,000 deaths involving the respiratory and circulatory systems and 51,000 deaths related to influenza per year in the United States. Earlier estimates stated that influenza was responsible for an excess of 22,000 deaths each year.
This rise in mortality is attributable, in part, to the maturation of the population as a whole as well as the appearance of more dangerous virus strains. Because influenza is not a known cause of heart attacks, it is extremely unlikely that the cause of death on the death certificates of patients who pass away from heart attacks, strokes, heart failure, or cardiac arrest will list influenza as a contributing factor. However, the number of deaths attributed to influenza could be significantly higher. As a direct result of this, an inaccurate count of the number of deaths caused by influenza is kept. In point of fact, our estimations, which were generated from clinical trials and case-control studies, reveal that the influenza virus may be responsible for as many as 90 000 fatalities annually by causing cardiovascular events.”
Dr. Khubchandani explains, “There has been a plethora of research done on the correlation between lifestyle choices, body mass index, and the likelihood of experiencing major complications from the flu (e.g. mortality and hospitalization). When compared to those of normal weight, those who are underweight, obese, or morbidly obese are almost twice as likely to be hospitalized with influenza as those who are of normal weight. In a similar vein, regular smokers have approximately a two to three times greater risk of being hospitalized or admitted to the intensive care unit owing to influenza infection. Our ability to fight and our immune system is negatively impacted by unhealthy lifestyle choices such as poor weight management and smoking, which in turn lead to a range of pathways that result in devastating results from influenza viral infections. If you want to prevent such terrible effects from recurring flu illnesses, it is best to avoid smoking, get regular exercise, eat a nutritious diet, and keep your body weight at a normal level.”
According to statements made by the American Society for Microbiology, “It is important for us not to draw too many conclusions from an experiment conducted on mice; however, the research [that was published in mBio] does seem to indicate that people who are obese do not have effective antiviral responses. This may be due to a problem with the way cells react when they are exposed to the flu in an obese environment. There is a holdup with them. They have been dulled, “Stacey Schultz-Cherry, Ph.D., who is the primary investigator of the study and a faculty member at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital as well as the Deputy Director of the World Health Organization Collaborating Centre for Studies on the Ecology of Influenza in Animals and Birds, made this statement. Dr. Schultz-Cherry is now serving as the Chair of the Public and Scientific Affairs Committee for the ASM (PSAC). “Because of obesity, the virus can enter the body, proliferate more quickly, and cause more errors. Some of those errors could end up working out well for the virus in the long run.”
Dr. Khubchandani states, “Aging is a natural process that occurs to everyone, although it is frequently accompanied by significant losses in physiological function. Particularly, there is an effect on immune systems as well as our capacity to defend ourselves against illness and infection. A deterioration of the immune function of this kind is likewise connected with every one of the causes outlined above (e.g., taking steroid medication, having chronic diseases, or autoimmune disorders).
The elderly and those with impaired immune systems are a primary focus of the immunization effort against the flu, and this is likely one of the reasons why. According to the official website of the United States government, “you are more prone to catch infections like the flu, pneumonia, and shingles — and to have complications that can lead to long-term illness, hospitalization, and even death” as you become older. It is interesting to note that studies have shown that getting vaccinated against the flu not only reduces the severe risk of ill outcomes caused by the flu, but it also reduces the severe risk of COVID-19 infections.”