19th January 2023

Simple Steps That Can Help You To Avoid Spreading the Flu

Every year, millions of people get the flu (also known as influenza). Most recover within a week, but for other few people, flu can cause severe complications that can be deadly.  

Seasonal flu epidemics typically occur in late autumn and winter, from October to April, so we can anticipate them, and prepare accordingly. 

What is the flu? 

Flu is a severe infection caused by a virus, which infects the lungs and upper airways. Most people feel better after seven days, however, if symptoms persist after this time, you should contact your GP.  

Who is more at risk of serious complications? 

Certain people are at risk of serious complications of the flu, including: 

  • People aged 65 and over 
  • Pregnant women 
  • People with a long-term condition 
  • Children aged 2 to 12 

If you have the flu and are considered at risk of serious complications, please contact your GP.

What are the symptoms of the flu? 

If you have the flu, you might experience the following symptoms: 

  • Muscle aches 
  • Fever 
  • Headache 
  • Feeling extremely weak and tired 
  • Cough 
  • Sore throat 
  • Difficulty sleeping 
  • Loss of appetite 
  • Diarrhoea or stomach pain 
  • Nausea and vomiting 

The symptoms are similar for children but might also include ear pain. 

What are the treatment options? 

Antibiotics do not work as a treatment for flu or its symptoms, as the flu is a virus and antibiotics cannot treat viruses. However, there are several things you can do to get better: 

  • Stay indoors 
  • Rest and sleep 
  • Keep warm 
  • Take paracetamol or ibuprofen to lower your temperature and treat aches and pains. Your pharmacist can advise you on over-the-counter medicines that will help 
  • Try to drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration 
  • Do not smoke 

How to prevent the flu? 

The flu vaccine reduces the risk of catching the flu and spreading it to others. It is especially important to get the flu vaccine if you are considered at risk of serious complications.  

It is best to get your flu vaccine every year in early October as it is the start of the flu season. 

How to avoid spreading the flu? 

Flu is very infectious and spreads easily to other people, especially in the first week of being sick. Flu is spread by germs through coughing and sneezing and can live on hands and surfaces up to 24 hours.  

Here are some of the things we can all do to reduce the spread of the flu: 

  • Wash hands regularly with warm water and soap 
  • Use tissues to trap germs when coughing or sneezing  
  • Bin used tissues immediately 
  • Avoid all unnecessary contact with others 
  • Avoid touching our eyes, nose, and mouth with our hands, as this helps spread the virus 
  • Clean surfaces and frequently-touched household items regularly 
  • Wear a face covering in public and crowded spaces 

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