Your airways are infected when you're suffering from flu. This is caused by the influenza virus. This virus is highly contagious and is transmitted through droplets of saliva which are released when we talk, cough and/or sneeze. Our snot also contains virus particles. That’s why good hygiene is incredibly important in order to avoid being infected or infecting someone else. Flu is comparable to a cold, but flu will make you feel much more unwell. You can catch flu all year round, but it’s much more common during the winter months. This is sometimes also referred to as seasonal flu.
The illness will usually come on suddenly and will include symptoms like:
- Chills, a high fever and sweating (your body temperature is above 38°C).
- A headache.
- Muscle pain all over the body.
- A sore throat.
The best way to measure your body temperature is by inserting the thermometer into your anus. That’s the most reliable method.
When you’re suffering from flu, it’s important that you:
- Get plenty of rest. Especially if you have a fever. This is absolutely essential in order to recover well.
- Take in enough fluids. Drink 1.5 to 2 litres of water per day.
- Take a paracetamol. This will reduce the fever and ease the pain. Although it won’t make your flu go away any faster.
- Eat healthily.
Avoid infecting other people by:
- Not touching your mouth and nose, or touching them as little as possible.
- Use a tissue when sneezing or coughing. Use paper tissues and immediately throw them away. You can also cough or sneeze into your elbow.
- Wash your hands with soap and water. Do this regularly.
- Thoroughly clean any used items and use your own cutlery, cups and plates.
- Keep a sufficient distance from other people and don’t hug anyone.
Do you have a compromised immune system, lung disease, kidney disease, or do you suffer from a cardiovascular disease? Then we would always recommend getting an annual flu vaccine from your GP.
You won’t usually need to go to your GP with flu and your symptoms will generally disappear within a few days. But sometimes it may be a good idea to contact your GP. For example, you should immediately see your GP if:
- You are short of breath.
- You’re coughing up a great deal of mucus.
- You’re feeling weak or drowsy.
- You aren’t drinking or urinating a lot and/or are showing signs of dehydration.
- You’ve had a fever for more than 5 days, or if the fever comes back after a few days.
Call your GP if you have flu and:
- You are 60 years old or above.
- Have a cardiovascular disease.
- Have diabetes.
- Have kidney disease.
- Have a compromised immune system (for example as a result of medication or chemotherapy).
Your GP or doctor’s assistant will discuss the seriousness of these symptoms with you. Your GP will take follow-up steps if necessary.
Does your child have flu? Then go to your GP if your child:
- Is inconsolable. Is very unwell and in a great deal of pain.
- Doesn’t respond or responds slowly. Is drowsy and/or is losing consciousness.
- Is breathing rapidly or has a wheeze.
- Is short of breath.
- Has taken on a different skin colour. For example, your child may look grey, pale or blue.
- Has febrile seizures. These will stiffen or weaken the arms and legs and jerk your child back and forth.
- Isn’t drinking, or only drinking a little. Is drinking no more than half as much as usual.
- Is showing signs of dehydration. Your child has a dry mouth, headache and dark urine. Your child is also listless and his/her arms and legs are cold. Look for more symptoms of dehydration.
- Has a compromised immune system due to an underlying condition, or due to medical treatment like chemotherapy.
- Is getting increasingly more unwell.
- Develops a fever after seemingly being on the mend.