H3N2 virus: More patients reporting pneumonia-like conditions, ear fullness

New Delhi, March 11 (IANS) Amid the rising number of influenza cases seen in the country, more patients are reporting pneumonia-like conditions and ear fullness, doctors said here on Saturday.
Speaking to IANS, Rajiv Gupta, Consultant – Internal Medicine, CK Birla Hospital, said that the “fullness of ear is an additional symptom noticed in this episode of flu”.
“Many patients at day five or six of the illness start complaining of fullness in the ears or feel like something is blocked inside the ears. It is more common in young adults,” he added.
According to Mayo Clinic, ear fullness occurs when your ears feel plugged.
“Your eustachian tubes – which run between your middle ear and the back of your nose – become blocked. A person may experience a feeling of fullness or pressure in the ears.” It is in some cases also accompanied with ear pain, dizziness and muffled hearing.
Meanwhile, India has recorded its first two deaths due to seasonal influenza subtype H3N2, one each from Karnataka and Haryana. Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya on Friday also asked states to be on alert and closely monitor the situation in view of ‘rising’ cases.
“Held a meeting to review rising cases of #H3N2 Influenza virus in the country. Advisory issued to states to be on the alert and closely monitor the situation. Government of India is working with states and extending support for public health measures to address the situation,” Mandaviya said in a tweet.
“Young children and old age persons with comorbidities are the most vulnerable groups in the context of seasonal influenza. So far, Karnataka and Haryana have confirmed one death each from H3N2 influenza,” the ministry said.
While the symptoms are similar to the flu seen earlier — fever, runny nose, body aches — sometimes these patients would have other symptoms like abdominal, diarrhoea and severe muscle pain, Manoj Goel, Director, Pulmonolgy, Fortis Memorial Research Institute, told IANS.
“Occasionally, patients are also getting admitted with pneumonia-like features, elderly patients can have loss of consciousness.
“People also are coming more with the post viral syndrome like severe cough,” and require oral medication and nebulizers,” Goel said.
Gupta said the flu is not serious among “the younger population whose immune system is intact”.
But “admissions and hospitalisation are mainly seen in people who have comorbidities in the form of cardiac disease, or respiratory disease like COPD or bronchial asthma or chronic kidney disease, or who are on immunosuppressive therapy like anti cancer drugs or steroids”, he told IANS.
The doctors advised people to take precautions such as frequent hand washing, and usage of masks, especially in crowded places.

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