Trying to get through the flu can be daunting, especially when you’re not feeling well. Feeling uncomfortable, feverish, and lethargic are just some of the symptoms of being under the weather, and recovering from it can take weeks. The good news is you can take control of your flu symptoms by looking at what to do if you’ve got the flu. Your GP or pharmacy can also offer advice if you feel under the weather.
What causes the flu?
The cold and flu virus spreads quickly through droplets released when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks. It can be spread easily from one person to another – often through hand contact. It can also be spread indirectly, where those who aren’t showing symptoms carry the virus and pass it on to others.
The flu is caused by several different viruses, categorized as either influenza A and B or influenza C. Symptoms usually develop suddenly, including fever, headaches, and a runny nose followed by painful sinus and coughing. Some people experience diarrhea or vomiting, while others will only have an aching feeling all over the body. Expectant women may experience severe symptoms, including vomiting, diarrhea, a high temperature, and low blood pressure.
More than one type of flu can affect you at the same time. There are four ‘types’ of the virus – A, B, C, and influenza D – but how they are contracted is different. For example, type B viruses can be contracted through respiratory tract infections (colds) but can also be transmitted by people who have other viruses in their bodies. Types A and C are less common viruses that are often passed on through contact with infected people. Types D can only be contracted by direct contact.
If you feel unwell, a visit to your doctor or pharmacist is a must. They will make a diagnosis based on your symptoms and then work together to treat them. Your GP or pharmacist can advise you on the best treatment for you and your family members experiencing the same symptoms as you, including when to see a doctor again.
What to do if you’ve got the flu?
If you have got the flu and are experiencing the symptoms, you can do several things to ease your discomfort. Try taking a mixture of honey and lemon every couple of hours until your symptoms disappear. It’s important to drink plenty of fluids, including water and sports drinks – which will help flush out all the toxins in your body.
If your symptoms become severe or you notice any unusual signs and symptoms, then see your GP or go to the accident and emergency department at your local hospital. It’s important to stay away from work until you are given the all-clear by a medical professional.
The flu can be particularly dangerous for older people and children as their immune systems are weaker, so they can get ill more easily. The best way to avoid catching the flu is by getting vaccinated every year. See your GP if you have had the flu or been immunized in the past six weeks before you get vaccinated. You may be advised to use an antiviral medicine to help treat symptoms. If you develop a severe form of influenza, you must contact your GP immediately and use an inhaler or allow someone to take care of you at home.