If January is normally the month in which the flu can be declared an epidemic, this season will start with changes, and it seems that the pathology has arrived earlier than expected. The Surveillance System for Influenza and other respiratory viruses of the Carlos III Health Institute (Ministry of Health) has published some latest data that demonstrates this: in week 39 -which runs from September 26 to October 2- Already there are 63 cases of influenza detected per 100,000 inhabitants.
This winter the population will have to face the coexistence of COVID-19, the flu and common colds. It will be a different winter in which the habits of the Spanish have also changed; and it is that, according to the study carried out during this 2022 by Johnson & Johnson Consumer Health, 86% of those surveyed will proactively take preventive measures to reduce the risk of contagion, a learning inherited from the health crisis of recent years. To predict what this winter will be like, data from the Southern Hemisphere, in which the winter season (from May to August) has already come to an end, could be taken as a reference. Specifically, the latest figures collected in Australia on the incidence of fever, cough and absence from work are significantly higher in 2022 than 2020 and 2021, and the average has even increased significantly compared to the data collected from 2015 to 2019. But this It is not the only change detected in the behavior of the flu virus in the 2022/23 season. In addition to this anticipation of the flu season, everything points to the fact that we are facing an increasingly seasonally adjusted disease. Research done by Johnson & Johnson Consumer Health has detected that the incidence of cold and flu has increased outside the traditional winter season, specifically, an unusual number of cases have been detected in times of the year such as May and June, when the incidence is normally minimal. Also, this same study indicates that these conditions have a longer duration and persistent symptoms.
The vaccination campaign in the 2022-23 season
This new and anomalous situation coincides with the beginning of the vaccination campaigns in our country, which this year expect to reach 75% of those over 65 years of age, which means the inoculation (adding up all risk groups) of more than 1.63 million doses.
Influenza vaccination aims to reduce mortality and morbidity associated with influenza and the impact of the disease in the community. How? Protecting those who have a higher risk of presenting complications and those who can transmit the disease to this population at risk. In this context, the 2023 campaign will be a timeless and special campaign due to the coexistence of the influenza virus and SARS-CoV-2, since the synergistic effect observed between both infections doubles the risk of death in case of coinfection.
Prevention becomes a habit
Since the beginning of the pandemic, it has been observed that the population is increasingly aware of taking care of themselves against the flu, colds and other diseases, and not only in winter. In fact, the study by Johnson & Johnson Consumer Health allows us to affirm that 82% of Spanish consumers are more interested in their health throughout the year after the pandemic. This is detected when looking at the sales success of the dual test test to detect COVID, influenza A and B that can already be purchased in pharmacies. This is proof that the pandemic has caused a new awareness of these diseases, which has led to greater attention to health, prevention and the search for well-being. Now the population is more proactive when it comes to preventing contagion with small changes such as masks, hand washing and certain measures in case of suspecting infection. All these are good customs that have already been integrated into the routines of the population.
Treat cold and flu symptoms
According to the study carried out by Johnson & Johnson Consumer Health, more than half of Spaniards, 55%, affirm that they will seek a treatment to deal with the different symptoms that both the flu and the common cold present. And it is that, in a flu process Up to six symptoms appear on average (pain, fever, cough, sneezing, nasal congestion and weakness) and this research confirms that only two to four are usually treated. To do this, the ideal is to select the treatment that best suits the symptoms that you want to alleviate. Since the good news is that, if there are no complications, cold and flu can be easily coped with the right medicine, whose objective should be to alleviate the symptoms while the disease runs its course and the body’s defenses eliminate the viruses. Among the medications that we can find for flu and colds are analgesics and antipyretics, antitussives, decongestants, mucolytics, expectorants, etc. And they are usually taken alone or in combination, as is the case with anti-flu medications that relieve multiple symptoms since they combine different active ingredients:
Paracetamolwhich has analgesic and antipyretic properties that help relieve headache and muscle pain, as well as fever.Dextromethorphanwhich relieves cough thanks to its antitussive effect.Chlorphenaminean active antihistamine ingredient effective in relieving runny nose and sneezing.Pseudoephedrinea decongestant that works by reducing the inflammation of the nasal mucosa, which improves the ability to breathe.Guaifenisinan expectorant active ingredient that helps eliminate excess mucus associated with productive forms of cough.Caffeinewhich acts as a stimulant of the nervous system, reducing decay and the feeling of sleep.Vitamin Ca water-soluble vitamin that is involved in collagen formation and tissue repair.