You may have heard a lot in the media about this year’s flu epidemic whether it be the ‘normal’ flu or the Australian flu, one thing is for sure, any type of flu is miserable! Flu is actually an acute respiratory infection caused by a variety of flu viruses. It is important to distinguish flu from other illnesses especially if you or your child has existing chronic medical conditions.
So how do you know if you have the flu or just a common cold?
It’s safe to say that unlike the common cold, flu symptoms usually come on very suddenly starting with an onset of a temperature, headache, immense fatigue and body aches. Often with a common cold, you may feel unwell but still will be able to work or go about your business however with flu, it will make you feel so unwell you will not be able to carry on as normal. Usual symptoms may include:
*A sudden fever- a temperature of 38C or above
*Feeling tired or exhausted
*dry, chesty cough
*loss of appetite
*diarrhoea or tummy ache
*nausea and sickness
Flu symptoms in toddlers and infants
In young children, flu symptoms can mimic those of other respiratory tract infections such as croup, bronchitis or pneumonia. Children will also often get abdominal pain, vomiting and diarrhoea and have a high temperature.
In infants, flu symptoms often go unrecognised as they may be similar to a bacterial infection. Flu in young babies could cause lethargy, poor feeding and poor circulation.
If children have chronic illnesses such as asthma, diabetes, heart or kidney diseases, they are at risk of severe complications of flu so they may be advised by their GP to have the vaccine once they are over 6 months of age.
Treatment for flu
* Rest and sleep
* keep warm
* take paracetamol or ibuprofen to lower your temperature and treat aches and pains.
* drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration (your urine should be light yellow or clear)
Call NHS 111 or see your GP if:
How to avoid spreading the flu?
Flu is very infectious and is easily spread to other people. Flu is mainly spread by germs from coughs and sneezes and it can live on hands and surfaces for 24 hours.
To reduce the risk of spreading the flu you can incorporate these simple steps:
*wash your hands often with warm water and soap
*use tissues to trap germs when you cough and sneeze
*get rid of used tissues as soon as possible.
*use hand gel often
NB: the flu vaccine is part of the national vaccination schedule and is offered to children aged 2-8 yrs of age on 31st August 2017. It may also be offered to children aged 9-17 who have certain medical conditions or a weakened immune system which may put them at risk of the complications of flu. Some teenagers are offered it at school depending on their geographical area.