Be Safe: Avoid That Nasty #Flu

image: derekryandublin flickr

This weather means some very common and annoying symptoms for most of us:- sneezes, cough, aches, headaches…. Aaarrgghh…not a good feeling at all. We end up with cold and flu and sometimes this means less productive week, hospital visits and medication. Some of us experience these symptoms regularly and we always say ‘mimi hupata homa saa yote’ but do you know the difference of a cold and a flu? Do you know that you can actually prevent getting it ‘regularly’?

In Kenya as well as other developing countries, people are not well informed about the negative impact of Influenza, its epidemiology, as well as how to prevent it. Kenya should thus promote public health interventions and educate people on the prevention of Influenza.

This year, Hartaj Bains Sales and Marketing Director, Kim Fay EA Ltd in collaboration with Dr. Warurua Mugo, a Paediatrician/Pulmonologist stepped in to provide effective Flu management tips derived from years of research and innovation in hygiene products. Simple strategies such as using good quality tissue instead of a handkerchief can make all the difference between quick recovery and prolonged Flu downtime.

 

  1. What are Flu symptoms?

Centre for Disease Control and Prevention states that Influenza (also known as the Flu) is a contagious respiratory illness caused by Flu viruses. It can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death. The Flu is different from a cold. The Flu usually comes on suddenly. People who have the Flu often feel some or all of these symptoms: Fever* or feeling feverish/chills, cough, Sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches, fatigue (tiredness), some people may have vomiting and diarrhoea, though this is more common in children than adults.

  • It’s important to note that not everyone with Flu will have a fever.

Q2. What is the difference between a cold and Flu?

The Flu and the common cold are both respiratory illnesses but they are caused by different viruses. Because these two types of illnesses have similar symptoms, it can be difficult to tell the difference between them based on symptoms alone. In general, the Flu is worse than the common cold, and symptoms are more common and intense. Colds are usually milder than the Flu. People with colds are more likely to have a runny or stuffy nose. Colds generally do not result in serious health problems, such as pneumonia, bacterial infections, or hospitalizations. Flu can have very serious associated complications.

image: flickr

Q3. What are some common Flu complications?

Most people who get Influenza will recover in a few days to less than two weeks, but some people will develop complications (such as pneumonia) as a result of the Flu, some of which can be life threatening and result in death. Pneumonia, bronchitis, sinus and ear infections are examples of complications from Flu. The Flu can make chronic health problems worse. For example, people with asthma may experience asthma attacks while they have the Flu, and people with chronic congestive heart failure may experience worsening of this condition that is triggered by the Flu (CDC, 2017)

Q4. Which are the peak seasons for Flu in Kenya?

According to Pan African Medical Journal (2013), In Kenya, Flu (Influenza) tends to be highest during wet months: March-April, October-November and the cold month of July.  During the Fl seasons, patients suffer adverse effects of Flu symptoms causing absenteeism from work an school which causes downtime and a general lack of productivity.  In Kenya as well as other developing countries, people are not well informed about the negative impact of Influenza, its epidemiology, as well as how to prevent it. Kenya should thus promote public health intervention and educate people on the prevention of Influenza.

 

Q5. What are emergency warning signs of Flu sickness?

For adults look out for these signs: Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen, sudden dizziness, confusion, severe or persistent vomiting, Flu-like symptoms that improve but then return with fever and worse cough.

For children look out for the following warning signs: Fast breathing or trouble breathing, bluish skin colour, not drinking enough Fluids, not waking up or not interacting, being so irritable that the child does not want to be held, Flu-like symptoms that improve then return with fever and worse cough or if baby develops fever with a rash. Get medical help right away for any infant who is unable to eat, has trouble breathing, has no tears when crying, or has significantly fewer wet diapers than normal, (CDC, 2017).

Q6. How can you fight the spread of Flu?

You can fight the spread of Flu by consistently and correctly practicing a few healthy habits. Correct Handwashing is crucial. “Viruses such as those causing colds and Flu come into the home via its occupants or visitors, carrying them in their throats, noses and somewhat surprisingly for some people, on their hands.” When someone sneezes or coughs on to their hands, and the germs then go wherever the hands go which becomes an important route of infection. Wash your hands frequently and immediately you get home to stop spreading germs from public spaces into your home. Wash with soap and running water if possible.

Correct hand drying A research conducted by the University of Westminster examined the transmission of viruses using various hand-drying methods. The study indicated that single use paper towels helps minimise the spread of viruses and is the most effective way to dry your hands in the washroom as they disperse fewer microorganisms into the environment than jet air dryers. This helps reduce the risk of viruses being blown into the face of small children accompanying adults in a washroom. European Tissue Paper (2016) Symposium demonstrated that warm air and jet air dryers have a greater potential to contaminate washrooms by spreading bacteria into the air and onto users and bystanders.

“A multiple use textile or cloth towels also has a higher risk of spreading germs especially when a family members has the Flu and hands are not washed properly,” explained Hartaj Bains, Kim Fay Sales & Marketing Director

 Q7. Handkerchief vs facial tissue          

From years of research and innovation in hygiene products, Fay has discovered that simple strategies such as using good quality tissue instead of a handkerchief can make all the difference between quick recovery and prolonged Flu downtime.

Using a good quality facial tissues to blow your nose is more hygienic than reusing a handkerchief especially if you have a Flu as you can easily dispose of the single used facial tissue and not carry the germs in your pocket as you would with a handkerchief,” says Hartaj.

It is highly recommended that you wash your hands after blowing your nose or coughing. If you can’t wash your hands, you could consider using an alcohol-based (wipes) hand-rub, which research suggests will kill bacteria and viruses.

Q8. Proper disposal of tissues

It is critical that all tissue is single use and that it should be immediately disposed in a trash can. “Dispose all tissue products well and do not keep tissues on the desk or countertops or in your pocket and handbag for future use,” says Hartaj.

Wash or sanitise your hands immediately after handling the soiled tissues and wipes.

This is especially important in the workplace where contamination is an issue. Every sneeze transmits viruses for up to 2-3 meters; if not contained with a tissue, it is obviously going to be transmitted quickly among colleagues.

Additional Notes from Dr. Warurua Mugo, a Paediatrician/Pulmonologist

Most of the prescription medication for Flu and Colds should not be kept for re-use after its expiry date. At most these medicines have a timeline of up to two months. After that they can be dangerous because they are basically chemicals, which undergo decomposition once opened.

Known Cold and Flu home remedies like Honey, Lemon and hot water because they help soothe the blocked / affected passageways. However they must be used within limit, it is advisable to check with a doctor the quantities to mix especially for children to ensure the concentration levels do not become toxic.

About Kim Fay

Kim-Fay specialises in manufacturing superior quality personal care, tissue & hygiene products for the East African Market.  Fay, which is the company’s flagship brand, has been trusted by Kenyan households for over 25 years. With a goal to embrace the latest global hygiene trends for East Africa, Fay has well established, products of choice, in categories such as toilet paper, facial tissues, serviettes, aluminium foil, cling film, baby diapers & feminine hygiene products.

There are different products designed for different uses

  • Toilet paper is designed to disperse water i.e. easy to flush down the toilet and easily managed through the waste water system.
  • Serviettes are designed to wipe your mouth after eating, therefore they’re a bit tougher than toilet tissue. When you a Serviette to blow your nose it may not be as gentle as a facial tissue, which is designed to be much softer on your skin.

With regards to the cost of tissue, Kim Fay has designed its pocket tissues, which are suitable for both men and women, to be as affordable as possible; From a hygiene perspective, tissues are more effective in preventing the transmission of Flu Viruses and germs in general, to your loved ones at home and colleagues at work.

 

When you factor the cost of visiting the doctor, buying prescription medicine and even the cost of downtime from your business, it only makes sense to invest in high quality tissues to help maintain hygiene throughout the year and keep Flu at bay during peak seasons.

Reference:

  • Centres for disease control and Prevention (2016) National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases (NCIRD) Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/Flu/about/qa/coldFlu.htm
  • European Tissue Symposium (2016) Hand drying techniques Retrieved from http://europeantissue.com/
  • Kimfay hygiene products and company profile (2016) Retrieved from kimfay.com
  • Matheka DM, Mokaya J, Maritim M. Overview of Influenza Virus infections in Kenya: Past, Present and Future. PanAfrican Medical Journal 2013;14(138)
  • Warurua Mugo, a Paediatrician/Pulmonologist, MD
  • Hartaj Bains – Sales and Marketing Director Kim Fay

 

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