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All about H3N2 Influenza

What is H3N2 Influenza?

Influenza, also known as flu, occurs when your chest, throat, and lungs, which are parts of your respiratory system, get infected by influenza viruses. These influenza inducing viruses are categorised into four types: A, B, C, and D. A category is further categorised into various subtypes based on the type of viruses and the H3N2 virus is one of them which causes H3N2 influenza. The H3N2 virus was first identified in pigs in 2010 and from them, it spread to humans. It can spread from person to person, mostly from the droplets of an infected person when he coughs, sneezes, or speaks. H3N2 virus is one of the viruses that cause ‘swine flu’, the others being H1N1 and H1H2. H3N2 influenza varies from mild to severe and sometimes it can be life-threatening also. H3N2 Influenza causes more hospitalisations compared to other strains.

What are the Types of H3N2 Influenza?

There are no types of H3N2 influenza, in fact, there are four types of viruses that cause influenza and are divided into A, B, C, and D types. H3N2 is a subtype of type A.

What are the Symptoms of H3N2 Influenza?

The symptoms of H3N2 Influenza are almost the same as any other kind of influenza. Some common symptoms of H3N2 influenza include:

  • Persistent cough
  • Running Nose
  • Headache
  • Body Pain
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Sore Throat
  • Diarrhea
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

What are the Causes of H3N2 Influenza?

H3N2 influenza gets spread from the droplets of an infected person. When an infected person coughs or sneezes, he releases droplets containing the H3N2 virus and from there it spreads to other people when they breathe in that environment. You get infected by the H3N2 virus if you touch the contaminated surface and then touch your eyes, mouth, or nose. Contrary to some beliefs, it does not spread from eating pork.

What are the Risk Factors of H3N2 Influenza?

Some risk factors of H3N2 influenza include:

  • Age: Though people of any age can get H3N2 influenza but children and older people are more prone to it.
  • Pregnancy: Pregnant women are at high risk of getting H3N2 influenza, especially in the later months of pregnancy.
  • People with underlying medical conditions: People suffering from some other diseases especially diseases like asthma or some respiratory disease, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and neurological or neurodevelopmental conditions are at high risk of getting H3N2 influenza.
  • Weak Immune System: People with weak immune systems are more prone to H3N2 influenza than people with strong immune systems.
  • Working Condition: If you work in a place where lots of other people work, then you are more likely to get H3N2 influenza as it mostly spreads from person to person.
  • Obesity: Obese people have a higher risk of being infected by the H3N2 virus.

What are the Complications of H3N2 Influenza?

H3N2 influenza is one of the most dangerous types of influenza and has caused numerous epidemics and pandemics across the world resulting in many deaths. The complications of H3N2 influenza include:

  • Respiratory Problems: H3N2 influenza directly affects your respiratory system and causes various problems in your respiratory system.
  • Kidney Related Conditions: The H3V2 virus which causes H3N2 influenza can affect the health of your kidney also. One of the main problems it can cause in the kidney is kidney injury where the functioning of the kidney can stop suddenly. It can be life-threatening and needs immediate medical assistance.
  • Pneumonia: H3N2 influenza directly affects the lungs and it can lead to pneumonia also. Pneumonia causes inflammation of the air sacs of a lung or both. Then the air sacs might get filled with pus or fluid resulting in fever, chills, and breathing problems. Pneumonia is the main complication of H3N2 influenza which has led to many deaths worldwide.
  • Worsening Other Diseases: If you have diseases like asthma, diabetes, or heart disease, then H3N2 influenza can worsen these diseases.

How H3N2 Influenza is Diagnosed?

Your doctor will ask you about the signs and symptoms you are feeling or take your physical exam to check what symptoms you have to diagnose H3N2 influenza. The symptoms of H3N2 influenza are similar to some other conditions also including covid, rhinovirus, adenovirus, and respiratory syncytial virus, so you might have to go through a laboratory test to confirm H3N2 influenza.

Detecting H3N2 influenza in the laboratory is the same as covid as samples from your nose or throat are taken from nasal swab and pharyngeal swab. They are further checked to diagnose H3N2 influenza through an RT PCR test. The result will come after a few hours of the test.

Checking the antibodies produced against it by the immune system can also help to diagnose H3N2 disease.

What are The Treatment Options for H3N2 Influenza?

There is a vaccine available for H3N2 influenza and it decreases infections by 40 to 60 percent. But new strains get developed every season and vaccines are needed to be updated accordingly.

If you notice the rise of H3N2 influenza in your area then you should take preventive measures such as wearing masks and avoiding crowded places. Always wash your hands after coming from outside and use sanitizers. Also avoid touching your eyes and nose, especially after touching an external surface.

Doctors may prescribe antiviral medicines like oseltamivir, zanamivir (Relenza), and peramivir (Rapivab) in the beginning to shorten the period of influenza and avert future complications. Doctors advise the infected people to take enough rest and drink plenty of fluids to keep them hydrated. You should have a healthy diet rich in vitamins and minerals, proteins and avoid sugary and processed food to make your immune system strong.

Warm saline gargles and steam inhalation might help to reduce cough, throat, and ear discomfort. Pain relievers can be used to fight the achiness associated with H3N2 influenza but only after consulting a doctor. Never go for self-medication as it may worsen the situation.

People who already have respiratory problems, children, and older people may need to be hospitalised for intensive treatment like supplemental oxygen if the condition is severe.

Living with H3N2 influenza

If you are diagnosed with H3N2 influenza, the first thing you should do is to isolate yourself and don’t get in close contact with others as it may spread the disease from you to others. Wear masks to prevent transmission. The infection normally goes away in five to seven days and after that, six to ten days are needed to get recovered. Most of the time, it goes away by itself barring some severe cases.

Whom to Consult?

If you notice symptoms like cough, runny nose, sore throat, fever, etc then first get yourself diagnosed through an RT PCR test as the symptoms of H3H2 influenza are similar to a few other conditions. If you are diagnosed with H3N2 influenza then your doctor may give you antiviral medicines and advice to take bed rest till you recover from the disease. If you have children and elderly people in your house with the symptoms of the H3N2 virus then your doctor may recommend them to get hospitalised to get proper treatment.

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