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Falling leaves, layers of knitwear, evenings spent snuggled up on the sofa – autumn is here. Unfortunately, this means that flu season is also here. Despite the seriousness of influenza, many people are unaware of the difference between the common cold and the flu. We’re therefore sharing our top flu facts so you can spot the symptoms and get the help you need. Or better yet, protect yourself against flu by getting vaccinated.
How do you catch the flu?
Both colds and the flu are spread by coughs and sneezes. The germs contained in the tiny droplets enter your body through the mucous membranes of the nose, eyes, or mouth. That’s why it is so important to sneeze into a tissue and cover your mouth when coughing to limit the spread of the virus.
How long does the flu typically last?
Colds tend to leave you feeling under the weather for just a few days, whereas the flu tends to drag on for longer, in some cases it can be weeks.
What are the symptoms of the flu?
Colds tend to come on gradually, usually beginning with a sore throat and a runny nose, followed by congestion and a cough. Children may develop a fever but this is uncommon in adults.
Symptoms of the flu, on the other hand, have a tendency to come on much quicker, with sufferers reporting they suddenly become hit with a sore throat, congestion and a cough, as well as a fever, fatigue, chills, headache and muscle pain.
How do you treat the flu?
Whether it’s a cold or flu, it’s important to rest up and keep warm. Drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated and take paracetamol or ibuprofen to lower your temperature and ease any aches and pains.
If you’re within a medically vulnerable group, for example you’re pregnant, over 65, have a long-term medical condition or a weakened immune system, it’s best to speak to your doctor right away if you suspect you have the flu. It’s also best to contact a doctor if your symptoms persist for more than seven days.
What complications are associated with the flu?
The common cold is likely to make you feel miserable for several days but it shouldn’t lead to any further medical complications. The flu, however, has potential to cause serious health problems such as pneumonia. This is of particular concern to the young, elderly, or people with lung or heart problems.
How can I protect myself from the flu?
There are a number of things you can do to reduce your risk of catching colds and the flu, including limiting your time spent around those who are ill and washing your hands frequently. Eating a healthy, varied diet rich in vitamins and minerals will also give your immune system the best chance of fighting it off. However, the best way to prevent getting the flu is to get vaccinated. One simple injection in the arm should protect you throughout flu season, but to stay protected, it is recommended you get vaccinated every year.
The flu vaccine is available at YourGP now, whilst stocks last. For further information CLICK HERE, or to book yours, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 0131 225 5656.
The best place in Edinburgh for private GP services (I have tried several). Very professional practice management able to answer any queries in a very timely manner. The nurse, Lynn is very knowledgeable and caring, able to put not only me but also my three months old son at ease. I am very happy with the service I have received.