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H3N2 influenza can be deadly for diabetics; prevention tips | Health


People with diabetes need to follow extra precautions during the ongoing H3N2 influenza as they may be at an increased risk of severe illness or hospitalisation, as per studies. Diabetes can cause damage to blood vessels and nerves which can affect respiratory system’s ability to ward off infections. According to a study published in National Library of Medicine, diabetes increases the likelihood of medical consultation and risk of death due to influenza. (Also read: H3N2 influenza: All about vaccination, prevention tips for kids)

The rise in minimum and maximum temperature in the past few days has resulted in decline in cases of H3N2 (REPRESENTATIVE IMAGE)
The rise in minimum and maximum temperature in the past few days has resulted in decline in cases of H3N2 (REPRESENTATIVE IMAGE)

H3N2 cases have been on rise in India and spreading across several parts of the country causing symptoms like cough, cold, diarrhoea, sore throat, blocked nose, fever, persistent cough, body ache, chills, among others. Severe cases can lead to pneumonia and other deadly complications. H3N2 virus is a subtype of the influenza A virus that is known to cause respiratory illness in humans. While influenza is common at this time of the year, H3N2 subtype poses an increased risk of hospitalisations and lethal complications.

“There is a strong link between diabetes and influenza, as people with diabetes are more susceptible to contracting the virus and are at a higher risk of experiencing serious complications,” says Dr Navneet Agrawal, the Chief Clinical Officer of BeatO.

Why are people with diabetes more susceptible to contracting flu

Diabetes is a condition that results in high blood sugar levels and can lead to a host of complications if not managed properly. One such complication is the increased risk of contracting the flu. According to the National Institute of Health, H3N2 influenza virus is a particular strain of the flu that can be especially dangerous for people with diabetes.

“Diabetes weakens the immune system, making individuals with the condition more vulnerable to infections like the flu. This is particularly true for the H3N2 influenza virus, which is known to cause severe illness and hospitalisations. Studies have shown that people with diabetes are more likely to be hospitalized with complications from the flu, such as pneumonia than those without diabetes. Additionally, diabetes can cause damage to the blood vessels and nerves, which can affect the respiratory system’s ability to fight off infections. Therefore, it is crucial for people with diabetes to take steps to prevent contracting the flu, such as getting vaccinated and practicing good hygiene,” says Dr Agrawal.


Dr Agrawal shares some tips that people with diabetes can follow to prevent contracting the virus.

Get vaccinated

The best way to prevent the flu is to get vaccinated. The flu vaccine is recommended for everyone over six months of age, and it is particularly important for people with diabetes. The vaccine can help protect against the H3N2 influenza virus and other strains of the flu.

Wash your hands

Washing your hands regularly with soap and water can help prevent the spread of germs. It is especially important to wash your hands before eating or touching your face.

Avoid close contact with sick people

Try to avoid close contact with people who are sick. If you do come into contact with someone who is sick, be sure to wash your hands thoroughly afterward.

Stay home when sick

If you have symptoms of the flu, stay home to avoid spreading the virus to others. Make sure to rest and drink plenty of fluids.

Manage your blood sugar levels

High blood sugar levels can weaken your immune system, making it harder to fight off infections. Make sure to manage your blood sugar levels by regular monitoring, taking your medications as prescribed, eating a healthy diet, and getting regular exercise.

Practice good respiratory hygiene

Cover your nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing. Use a tissue or your sleeve, and make sure to dispose of used tissues properly.

What to do if you have diabetes and symptoms of flu

Contact your doctor: Contact your doctor immediately if you are experiencing symptoms of the flu, especially if you have diabetes. Your doctor can advise you on the appropriate course of treatment and provide guidance on how to manage your diabetes while you are sick.

Monitor your blood sugar level: The flu can cause your blood sugar levels to fluctuate, so it is essential to monitor your levels frequently. Be prepared to adjust your insulin dosage or other medications as needed.

Stay hydrated: Drink plenty of fluids, such as water and sugar-free drinks, to stay hydrated. Avoid sugary drinks that can raise your blood sugar levels.

People with diabetes can follow these tips to protect themselves from the flu and avoid hospitalisation and serious complications.

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