Kiss goodbye to the season for coughing, congestion and sneezing with these preventative measures.
By Tamara Clarke
Seasonal influenza, commonly known as the flu, is caused by influenza viruses. It affects the respiratory system, primarily the nose and throat, and symptoms vary from mild to severe. Being proactive is key, but sometimes getting sick is inevitable, so we’re hoping to shed a little light on how you – and those around you – can stay healthy.
Signs and symptoms
Dr. Marie Carole Elia, consultant family medicine at Mediclinic
Airport Road Hospital, says: “Symptoms of the flu generally resemble those of a cold, but can be more severe.
It can manifest with a few or all of the following: fever, cough, sore throat, runny or congested nose, body aches, headaches and tiredness. Some people, especially children, might experience vomiting and diarrhoea.
“Most people recover from the flu within a few days without complications; however some people will develop ear and sinus infections or more severe complications such as pneumonia (lung infection), or inflammation of the heart, brain or muscles, which can be serious.”
Hearing the term ‘flu jab’ isn’t exactly motivational, but Dr. Elia, contends that the best way to remain healthy during the flu period is to get vaccinated.
The seasonal influenza vaccine protects against common viruses that cause the virus. So, how does it work?
The flu vaccine contains inactivated viruses that help the body develop immunity to the flu. Then, the body produces antibodies that protect against the strains of inactive viruses in the vaccine.
The flu vaccine is also updated annually to include the main flu- causing viruses that appear each year.
According to Dr. Elia, every person six months and older can receive the flu vaccine.
“Most people can take it, except people known to be allergic to the vaccine, or with severe allergy to eggs. People with mild egg allergy can take the vaccine.”
“Because the flu is very contagious, and because it has the potential of becoming a very severe disease, especially in children, pregnant women, the elderly and people with certain medical conditions, it is important for all of us to get vaccinated for our own protection and for that of our society.”
In addition to vaccination, establishing good hygiene can help reduce your chances of becoming infected.
“Other steps to prevent the flu, as well as the common cold, include avoiding contact with affected individuals, keeping your hands clean by washing them frequently, or using alcohol- based hand sanitiser, and practising healthy- living habits such as eating well, drinking plenty of water, remaining physically active, getting enough sleep, managing stress and refraining from smoking.”
Dr. Elia also warns that people who are sick should limit contact with others and cover their nose and mouth when they sneeze or cough.
Remember, the flu is usually temporary and if you do get it, you won’t be down and out forever.
“You will know that you are recovering from the flu when the symptoms start improving. It usually takes about a week. Affected people might still cough and feel tired for up to two weeks.
“Even if you start feeling better, it’s best to remain cautions until all symptoms have cleared,” warns Dr. Elia.
“The chance of spreading the virus is highest in the first few days of illness, and affected individuals remain contagious for about a week, until all symptoms have resolved.”
To book an appointment for the flu vaccination at Mediclinic, contact: 800 2000, mediclinic.ae