As winter edges closer along with shorter, chillier days the influenza (flu) season comes upon us. Cold and flu viruses often exacerbate other respiratory conditions.
A common misconception of those suffering a cold is that they may have the flu. While the common cold can make you feel bunged up and run down with perhaps a cough and low grade temperature, the flu is an entirely different matter. It can make a normally fit and healthy person very unwell with a high fever, aches and pains and extreme tiredness. In children the virus can also cause tummy upsets. A person who has influenza may be unwell for a week or more.
The flu is an acute viral infection of the respiratory tract (the nose, throat and lungs) which is easily spread via touch and through the air in droplets dispersed by coughing and sneezing. A person can be infectious even with little or no symptoms and remain infectious for up to 5 days after they have caught the virus. As it is a virus, antibiotics are of no value unless a complication develops.
Patients who have underlying health issues (such as diabetes, asthma, heart conditions, cancer), are over 65 years old, or children under 6 months old are at much higher risk of developing complications after catching the flu. These include breathing difficulties, bronchitis and potentially life threatening pneumonia. It is also very important that women who are pregnant receive the vaccination as the flu virus has the potential to cause complications to the unborn baby. In addition, we recommend that those patients who have regular contact with another person in any of those groups receives a flu vaccination.
We recommend that all our patients (low risk, young and old) receive the vaccination and we have the new 4 strain vaccine available for this, which also comes as a nasal version for children.