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Influenza, 7 million cases expected

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Influenza, 7 million cases expected

The flu season has already begun. And this year will not be like the one just passed, when due to the lock down and masks the circulation of flu viruses has been reduced to a minimum. “The estimate for Italy is 6-7 million cases. A figure that is growing compared to previous years, as also shown by the observations on the southern hemisphere, where the flu is ongoing”, he explains. Fabrizio Pregliasco, associate professor of the Department of Biomedical Sciences for Health at the University of Milan and corporate health director of the IRCCS Galeazzi hospital – Sant’Ambrogio in Milan. “We must then consider the increased amount of respiratory viruses and the lower exposure of the population to pathogenic microorganisms such as viruses and bacteria in the last two years, due to the social restrictions adopted in previous seasons, which not only reduced the spread of SARS-CoV. -2, but also that of other influenza viruses “.

Covid and flu, a double epidemic on the horizon

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Double vice

Unfortunately, the increased circulation of influenza will not be accompanied by a drastic decrease in SARS-CoV-2: although it will have more and more difficulty in spreading considering both the high share of people who have already contracted Covid-19 and those who have been vaccinated. , the new coronavirus will continue to claim victims. “Covid still kills 4 times as much flu and is the cause of 95% of deaths in over 60s”, underlines Pregliasco. How to distinguish the two diseases? “The real flu, compared to other cases – continues Pregliasco – is recognized by fever with high temperature, sudden appearance, respiratory symptoms or burning in the eyes and at least one extra respiratory symptom, such as muscle pain, headache, fatigue”.

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The only defense is the vaccine, but 4 out of 10 Italians are skeptical

From a survey conducted by Human Highway for Assosalute, the conviction emerges that vaccination is useless: 42% of the population still believe it, because they say they rarely get sick and with mild symptoms. And the percentage of those who have never asked themselves the problem of flu vaccination remains high, even if in contraction compared to the survey carried out two years ago (24.5% in 2022 against 26.3% in 2020). The remaining 4 out of 10 Italians declare instead that they want to get the flu vaccination, with a propensity that reaches the maximum levels among the over 65s, where 2 out of 3 intend to get vaccinated. Among these, the flu vaccine has now become a custom: for 44.2% the motivation is to avoid infecting close people (29.6%, growing), followed by the desire to facilitate the differential diagnosis between flu and Covid -19 (29.4%, down).

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“Influenza is however an aggressive and debilitating pathology that remains independent of SARS-CoV-2. Thanks to the presence of diagnostic swabs, to date, we are able to measure its contagiousness, but following what the hemisphere data report southern and considering the reduced level of immune defenses in the last two years (in which we were little exposed to influenza viruses), the protection through the administration of the vaccine remains fundamental “, he explains Claudio Cricelllipresident of SIMG – Italian Society of General Medicine and Primary Care.

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How to manage flu symptoms

The Human Highway survey also highlights the growth, even without returning to pre-pandemic levels (45.6% in 2022 vs 37.1% in 2020), of the share of Italians who believe that the wiser behavior in case of symptoms flu or stay at rest, resort to self-medication and, only if the situation does not improve within a few days, contact your doctor.

“As far as self-medication is concerned, the concept of watchful waiting has recently been criminalized, but this is what must be done: evaluate the symptoms and manage them, first of all by resorting to self-medication drugs that allow to alleviate the symptoms without eliminating them. “, explains Pregliasco. “The concept of reference is simple – concludes Cricelli – we have no therapies either to recover from the flu or from SARS – CoV-2, but what we can do is control the symptoms with the help of self-medication. It is therefore necessary. , always remind the patient how to behave when the first symptoms appear and instruct the citizen on the correct use of drugs “.

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