Think you’ve beaten the flu bug this year?


Bad news; flu season is far from over. Influenza outbreaks are unpredictable and can occur as late as May. New data from the Government today suggests that rates of flu are rising currently.

As a Trust, we are continuing to encourage our staff to get the jab because we know it protects them, their patients and their family. It can protect you too.

Dr Andy Carson has been practicing as a GP for many years and has seen the way the flu has affected his patients. He said: “There is a big difference between your average cold and a dose of the flu.

“It’s definitely not too late to get vaccinated. It takes about two weeks after getting the jab for antibodies to develop in the body that provide protection against the flu. Even if you get it next week, you’ll have protection for the best part of four months. If you’ve had it, you’ll know it is not something to have more than once.

If you get the flu, what will it be like?

Expect a sudden high temperature, more than 38 degrees Celsius and a sudden cough. Other symptoms can include headache, feeling cold and shivery, aching muscles, limb or joint pain, sore throat, runny nose, sneezing, loss of appetite and diarrhoea or stomach upset.

Dr Carson said: “The best thing you can do is rest, drink plenty of fluids and help ease sore throats with cough lozenges, mixtures or sprays. And if you are buying over the counter cold remedies, make sure you check with the pharmacist whether any cold or flu remedies can be used with medication you’re already taking.”

“If you are otherwise fit and healthy, there is usually no need to visit your GP with flu-like symptoms, but flu can be more serious for some groups of people, those who are over 65, are pregnant, have a long term medical condition such as diabetes, heart disease, lung disease, kidney disease or a neurological disease or people who have a weakened immune system (the body’s natural defence against infection and illness) and antiviral medication may need to be prescribed.”

The important things to remember are:
· It isn’t too late to have a free flu jab at your GP surgery if you are over 65; have an underlying health condition; are pregnant or care for someone that has an underlying health condition (check with your GP surgery)

· Don’t expect antibiotics. They won’t work. Colds and flu are caused by viruses and antibiotics only work on bacterial infections

· Keep paracetamol or ibuprofen-based pain and fever treatment or cold remedies in the house. They will help with the symptoms of both colds and flu

· Sneeze into a tissue and put it straight in the bin – don’t carry it around to reuse over and over again!

· Have good hand hygiene – always wash hands with soap and water, particularly after sneezing and blowing your nose. Take the time to dry them properly as wet hands harbour and spread germs

· Keep surfaces clean, in your kitchen, on your desk.

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