Flu Info

Flu is an acute viral disease of the respiratory tract caused by the influenza virus.

The virus is carried in the airborne respiratory droplets in infected people and is usually passed on in crowded areas and in enclosed spaces and also through direct contact with respiratory secretions in infected individuals. Hand contamination is a possible source of transmission ie touching door handles bannisters etc

There are 3 different types of flu and epidemics occur every year from November to April in the UK.

Annual epidemics result in 3 – 5 million cases and up to 500 000 deaths

Most deaths associated with influenza in industrialised countries occur in persons over 65 years of age although children and young adults are also at risk.

Incubation

Incubation – short, 1-3 days.

Convalescence – recovery is usual within 2-3 weeks but post viral complications can be up to 6 weeks.

Complications include: viral pneumonitis, bacterial pneumonia, otitis media and exacerbation of underlying chronic conditions.

Severe illness and death during annual influenza epidemics occur primarily among those in the high risk group category i.e. over 65yrs, chronic medical conditions, pregnancy and immunosuppression.

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Signs and symptoms of flu: Fever, chills, headache, aches and pains, congested nose and sneezing, sore throat and dry cough.

There are antiviral drugs available that can be used to prevent or treat flu but only under special circumstances. Usually it’s the symptoms of the flu that are

Vaccination is 70%-80%effective

 

Symptoms Cold Flu
Fever Sometimes, usually mild Usual; higher (37.7-40 C; occasionally higher, especially in young children); lasts 3 to 4 days
Headache Occasionally Common
General Aches, Pains Slight Usual; often severe
Fatigue, Weakness Sometimes Usual; can last 2 to 3 weeks
Extreme Exhaustion Never Usual; at the beginning of the illness
Stuffy Nose Common Sometimes
Sneezing Usual Sometimes
Sore Throat Common Sometimes
Chest Discomfort, Cough Mild to moderate; hacking cough Common; can become severe
Complications Sinus congestion; middle ear infection Sinusitis, bronchitis, ear infection, pneumonia; can be life-threatening
Prevention Wash hands often; avoid close contact with anyone with a cold Wash hands often; avoid close contact with anyone who has flu symptoms; get the annual flu vaccine
Treatment Decongestants; pain reliever/fever reducer medicines Decongestants, pain relievers, or fever reducers are available over the counter; over-the-counter cough and cold medicines should not be given to young children; prescription antiviral drugs for flu may be given in some cases; call your doctor for more information about treatment.