Cold and flu season

It's cold and flu season, are you prepared?

The cold and flu season is well entirely here, and we have all the top tips for you and your family to stay protected and be prepared for these winter months and the illness they bring. By being prepared and looking after your and your family’s health you minimise the risk of getting sick or the potential severity and duration of any winter illnesses.

The flu (influenza) is a viral infection very easily spreading from person to person through touch and in the air which is why it is so transmissible. Most people who get the flu recover within a week or two, but it can cause serious illness in some people. Vaccination against the flu is the most recommended protection for the illness, however, there are many other preventative methods you can implement if you’re not wanting or cannot get the flu jab.

There are several key points to remember about the flu such as the flu can be confused with the common cold but the flu is generally much worse than a cold with symptoms coming on suddenly and requiring bed rest. Influenza can cause serious complications and death in young children, the elderly, pregnant women or people who suffer from long term health conditions. The flu is extremely infectious and easily transmissible so washing hands, and wearing masks when appropriate can help to keep you and your family protected against the flu. The recommended protection by health professionals is the flu vaccination. Influenza is caused by a virus so antibiotics do not work to treat the flu.

How to tell and what to do if you or a member of your family contracts influenza? There are many products you can get from your local pharmacy to elevate cold and flu symptoms.

See below for Influenza symptoms:

  • muscle or body aches
  • fever (a temperature of 38°C or higher)
  • chills
  • headache
  • sore throat
  • cough
  • runny or stuffy nose
  • stomach upset, vomiting, diarrhoea

People who do get symptoms can come on suddenly which usually means that they are too sick to work, play sport or do any strenuous activity. Symptoms will usually last a week or two, but it may take some time before the person infected feels fully recovered again.

The best thing you can do while sick with the flu is to rest and hydrate. Stay home from work or school or any social events until you are well so as to not further spread the virus.

Other things you can do are listed below:

  • keep hydrated to replace fluids you lose because of fever and sweating
  • drink mainly water and avoid tea, coffee and alcohol as they dry you out even more
  • gargle saltwater to soothe a sore throat or dry cough
  • use a damp cloth to cool your forehead and limbs
  • shower or bathe regularly and keep bedding clean and dry

Because antibiotics do not work you can use paracetamol or ibuprofen to help relieve fevers, body aches, and headaches. Your local community pharmacist can help you with further advice about what products are recommended such as throat sprays, gargles, lozenges, targeted pain relief medication and options for children.