What is the flu?
The Flu is a common infectious viral illness spread by coughs and sneezes. The flu is different than the common cold. It is caused by a different group of viruses and the symptoms tend to start more suddenly and be much more severe. In addition, flu symptoms last quite a while longer than cold symptoms.
What are the symptoms of the flu?
The main symptoms of the flu are:
- A dry, chesty cough
Cold like symptoms, such as a blocked or runny nose, sneezing and a sore throat, can also be caused by the flu. However, these symptoms tend to be less severe than other flu symptoms.
What causes the flu?
The flu is caused by a group of viruses called influenza viruses. The flu is highly contagious and easily passed from person to person. The flu virus is spread through the millions of tiny droplets that come out of the nose and mouth when someone coughs or sneezes. Once it has left the body, the virus can survive in these droplets for up to 24 hours.
Adults with the flu may be able to infect others from one day before getting sick to one week after getting sick. Children can be infectious even longer.
If you have the flu it is important to stay home from work or school as you can easily spread the disease to other people.
How can you treat the flu?
Prescription medications, like Tamiflu, are an effective course of treatment for the flu. Tamiflu prevents the flu virus from spreading inside the body. It helps to ease or prevent the symptoms of the flu virus.
In addition to prescription medication, when you have the flu it is important to stay hydrated, get lots of rest, and keep warm. You can take paracetamol or ibuprofen to lower a fever and relieve body aches.
How can you try to prevent the flu?
There are a few precautions you can take to try to avoid catching a flu. Getting an annual flu vaccine substantially decreases your risk of infection, as does taking prescription medications such as Tamiflu. Tamiflu can be taken preventatively to lower your chances of getting the flu.
Other precautions you can take to avoid the flu include:
- Washing your hands regularly with soap and water
- Using tissues to cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze
- Regularly cleaning of surfaces such as computer keyboard, telephone and door handles
- Put used tissues in a bin as soon as possible