Written by Dr Lisa Anderson for Doctify
With reports flying around about deadly cases of Aussie Flu and, this week, something called Japanese Flu, it can be easy to fall into panic mode. We here at Doctify HQ believe knowledge is power and that the more information people have about the flu, the more equipped they will be to take action.
Doctify GP, Dr Lisa Anderson has filled us in on the flu symptoms to look out for and what vaccines are currently available.
What are the symptoms of flu?
Flu symptoms can be similar those of a cold but are usually more severe. Fever – usually over 38C which appears quickly unlike a cold where it appears gradually
- Body aches and chills which can be severe
- Stuffy and runny nose
- Dry hacking cough
- Profound tiredness
- Sore throat
How serious is it as an illness?
Flu is usually not a serious illness for healthy individuals, however for those at risk it can lead to complications such as pneumonia, sepsis and death. Identifying red flag signs may indicate something more serious has developed requiring urgent hospital assessment.
This is particularly relevant to those at risk such as the elderly, children under age 5, those with chronic lungs conditions, or people with heart disease, diabetes, liver and kidney diseases, a weakened immune system and pregnant women.
Red flag signs are
- Difficulty breathing
- Fast pulse
- A high temperature that does not come down with paracetamol or ibuprofen
- Reduced urination despite drinking
- Drowsiness and confusion
- Vomiting or diarrhoea as these are not usually present as a common feature
What is the treatment?
Most people with flu do not require treatment as the illness usually subsides after 7-14 days. The advice is to stay home, take paracetamol and ibuprofen (as long as you can), drink plenty and stay warm and rest.
Antiviral agents such as Tamiflu can be prescribed. In such cases it is usual confirm the diagnosis with a swab before treating unless this is not safe for the patient. Close contacts may also be given prophylactic treatment in confirmed cases.
What does the flu jab do and should I get one?
This year’s adult flu vaccine offers protection against three of the circulating flu strains (including the “Aussie flu” that has been reported on recently) but not all of them. The other vaccine that I have available offers protection against the Japanese B Yamagata strain that is currently circulating.
The advice is that all at risk groups should have the flu vaccine and a detailed list can be found on the www.nhs.uk website.
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