With the coming of the colder weather we start to think about protecting ourselves and dealing with colds and flu.
Here are a few tips and pieces of advice to help you.
People make the mistake of assuming that flu is ‘a bad cold’. This is incorrect. Flu can be more serious and many people in the UK die each year due to complications relating to flu.
The NHS says there are up to 200 viruses that cause colds and just three related to flu. Flu viruses come in many strains, and each year the vaccine changes to protect against the most common ones around at that time.
Colds and flu share some of the same symptoms, such as a cough and sore throat but colds tend to cause more nasal problems, such as blocked nose.
Fever, fatigue and muscle aches tend to be more severe with a bout of flu.
Symptoms include a runny and blocked nose, a sore throat, sneezing and coughing.
These symptoms develop over a few days. Most colds get better after one or two days but some can last for up to a fortnight. The early stages of a cold, when you have a scratchy throat, are the most contagious.
Flu tends to come on much more quickly than a cold. Other symptoms include sudden fever, muscle aches, sweating, exhaustion and a dry, chesty cough.
Most people recover within a week, although they may feel tired for longer. People who have a chronic condition, such as asthma, diabetes or heart disease, or have a very high fever together with severe headache, or abdominal or chest pains should seek medical help.
Most fit and healthy people can manage the symptoms of a cold or flu by themselves without needing to see a doctor.
The best advice is to rest, drink plenty of non-alcoholic fluids to avoid dehydration and cut out any strenuous activity until you have recovered. If you have muscle aches, painkillers such as ibuprofen or paracetamol can help relieve them.
A warm tea, such as chamomile or peppermint, with some honey can help remedy coughs, sore throats and fevers.
Steam inhalation helps cough and blocked noses – boil one inch of water in a pan, remove from the cooker and add five drops of eucalyptus oil. Inhale slowly for a few minutes twice daily with a towel over your head.
Regular saltwater gargles using one tablespoon of salt in a glass of warm water can ease sore throats.
Flu vaccinations are available on the NHS from September onwards to groups of people who may be prone to complications relating to flu.
People who qualify for the jab include:
• people aged 65 or over
• people who have a serious medical condition
• pregnant women
Parent can also request a nasal spray flu vaccine for children for two to four-year-olds as well as for children in school years one and two.