The Flu Virus
The flu virus typically peaks around this time of year. The best way to help protect yourself and others from catching and spreading flu is to have the flu jab every year. Flu strains can change from year to year, which means last year’s jab may not protect you from this year’s strains. The vaccine usually provides protection for the duration of that year’s flu season.
Getting vaccinated is important each year but especially this year, with the risk of both flu and COVID-19 outbreaks, people are urged to have the flu vaccine in order to protect themselves, their loved ones, and the NHS this winter.
Symptoms of the flu
Common symptoms of flu include:
- a high temperature
- general aches and pains
- a dry, chesty cough.
If you are generally fit and healthy you can usually manage the symptoms at home yourself without seeing a doctor.
The best remedy is to rest at home, keep warm and drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration. Paracetamol or ibuprofen may help lower a high temperature and relieve aches. A pharmacist will be able to provide advice on medication.
It’s important to remember that antibiotics are not effective against viruses.
People suffering with a cold or flu should avoid going into hospital, GP practice or other health setting to reduce the chance of vulnerable people catching the virus. The flu virus can be very dangerous for the elderly and the infirm particularly if they are already sick. This is a message that applies to people coming into hospital seeking treatment and to people coming to visit relatives.
Help to stop the spread of common viruses
Colds and flu are caused by viruses and easily spread to other people. Germs from coughs and sneezes survive on hands and surfaces for up to 24 hours. You are infectious until all symptoms are gone which usually takes a week or two.
You can help prevent colds and flu spreading by using tissues to ‘catch it, kill it, bin it’. Washing your hands regularly with soap and water destroys bugs that you may have picked up from touching surfaces used by other people, such as light switches and door handles.
It is also important to keep household items clean, including cleaning such items as cups, glasses and towels, especially if someone in your house is ill.
Hand sanitiser is effective against the virus, so it’s important to use hand sanitiser when you are out in public, and at home if you’re living with someone who’s ill.
People with worsening symptoms or respiratory problems are advised not to visit a GP surgery or a hospital but to call their GP first or call NHS111 for further advice.
View a handy flyer for more information about flu, especially those who are at risk.