Tissue time for colds and flu

Whilst colds are nasty and bring with them sore throats, coughs, stuffy or runny noses and aching muscles, they generally do not stop us from our day to day. The flu however is more serious, very infectious and according to the NHS, spreads ‘by germs from coughs and sneezes, which can live on hands and surfaces for 24 hours’.

Vulnerable groups are especially at risk from the flu virus which can cause severe illness or lead to serious complications such as bronchitis or pneumonia. The NHS therefore recommends that you should have the flu vaccine if you:

  • are 65 years old or over
  • are pregnant
  • have certain medical conditions
  • are living in a long-stay residential care home or another long-stay care facility
  • receive a carer’s allowance, or you’re the main carer for an elderly or disabled person whose welfare may be at risk if you fall ill

It also pays to be alert to the signs and symptoms of the flu, which according to the NHS, can come on very quickly and include:

  • a sudden fever – a temperature of 38C or above
  • an aching body
  • feeling tired or exhausted
  • a dry cough
  • a sore throat
  • a headache
  • difficulty sleeping
  • loss of appetite
  • diarrhoea or tummy pain
  • feeling sick and being sick

Treating the flu usually involves rest and sleep, keeping warm and drinking plenty of fluids. You may also be advised to take paracetamol or ibuprofen to treat aches and pains and to lower your temperature. Vulnerable groups however must consult with their GP and you must call 999 immediately if you develop sudden chest pains or have difficulty breathing.

What then can we do to play our part in preventing the spread of colds and flu? According to the NHS, the following simple measures can reduce the risk:

  • wash your hands often with warm water and soap
  • use tissues to trap germs when you cough or sneeze
  • bin used tissues as quickly as possible

More information and guidance on the Flu and vaccination can be found at https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/flu/