With the recent surge in ‘flu cases, we thought it would be worth giving a quick recap of what to do and when to seek medical intervention.
Flu is a viral infection which will make you feel absolutely rotten - it’s not simply a ‘bad cold', as it affects your whole body rather than mainly just your nose and throat. If you are a normally healthy adult, the biggest favour you can do yourself (and to limit the chances of spreading this highly infectious virus) is to consign yourself to your bed or sofa. If you have full-blown flu, you will not need any persuading!
Symptomatic relief for fever and aches and pains will come from paracetamol and ibuprofen (take care to keep track of how much you are taking, so as not to exceed safe doses). And make sure that you are taking on plenty of fluids (your pee should be light golden).
While you rest and medicate, your immune system will set to work fighting off the virus and you should expect to be feeling better in around a week. However, there are some circumstances in which you should seek further medical advice:
- your symptoms don't improve after 7 days
- you're worried about your child's symptoms
- you're 65 or over
- you're pregnant
- you have a long-term medical condition – for example, diabetes or a heart, lung, kidney or neurological disease
- you have a weakened immune system – for example, because of chemotherapy or HIV
- ‘Red flag’ symptoms that suggest urgent medical intervention (999 or A&E) would be sudden chest pain, difficulty breathing or if you start coughing up blood
What can your GP do?
- As flu is a virus, antibiotics are no help
- Anti-viral medications are available and your doctor will advise whether they might be appropriate to help your body fight the infection. The sooner they are started after the onset of symptoms, the better.
- It is possible to test for flu and which strain you have, by taking swabs from your nose and throat. In many cases, putting a name to the infection you have might not greatly change the treatment you are under. Nevertheless it can still be useful to know if, for example, you have been in contact with others at greater risk of complications from the illness, who might therefore benefit from taking anti-viral’s pre-emptively.
Limit the spread of flu
- If you haven’t already had your flu vaccine, do book in for one ASAP
- Wash your hands often with warm water and soap
- Use tissues to trap germs when you cough or sneeze, and bin them straight away