There are several things which have to be remembered about the flu. Firstly, this infection is caused by a virus. This means that sadly, antibiotics do not work. By taking antibiotics you are risking side effects such as diarrhoea and thrush, which will make you feel even worse.
Certain individuals are more at risk than others, including asthmatics and diabetics. If you are someone who falls into one of these categories or indeed have another long term health condition, talk to your doctor about getting the flu vaccine. This will protect you from many strains of the flu.
If you are unlucky enough to catch the flu, visit your doctor to confirm this and, more importantly, to rule out complications such as pneumonia. Treatment is largely supportive, which means bed rest, fluids and time. Paracetamol can treat both pain and fevers and can be taken by most patients. Check with your doctor whether it is safe for you, and do not take it more than four times within a twenty-four hour period.
Flu can spread among people up to six feet apart, and is thought to be droplet spread-which means that it spreads when someone breathes in droplets of mucus created when you cough or sneeze. Remember to stay at home when you have this illness, as your co-workers will not thank you when they become ill!
Part of being human is getting sick from time to time. Be prepared for flu season. Look out for the signs and seek medical help early.
Isabelle Duck is a doctor who works in both general practice and after-hours at Westgate Medical Centre. She has been living at Hobsonville Point for around a year and a half. She is originally from Manchester and completed her medical training at the University of Oxford and King’s College London.