Flu has hit many Australians hard, with one of the worst seasons in the last few years. Not only did it start earlier than usual, but children have been badly affected by the illness too.
Even though we’re coming to the end of peak season, it’s still important to know that you can catch flu at any time of the year.
That’s why we’ve pulled together this guide on what you should do if you think you or a family member have flu. Find out more about this common illness in our post.
What is flu?
Flu (short for influenza) is an infection caused by a virus, with symptoms affecting the throat, nose and sometimes the lungs too.
It is not a serious illness for most people, but others may need treatment in hospital.
It’s more common to get flu during the winter months.
Flu symptoms include:
- Sore throat
- A blocked or runny nose
- Aches and pains
- Upset stomach or diarrhoea
- Loss of appetite
Because the symptoms are similar to those of COVID-19, you should get tested for COVID-19.
If the test is negative, your doctor may take further tests or perform an examination to confirm that you have flu.
How long does the flu last?
Flu normally lasts between seven and ten days if you don’t develop complications.
Unfortunately, some people go on to suffer from secondary infections such as pneumonia or develop issues with their muscles, heart, brain or other organs. This can set them back in their recovery.
If you have a mild case of flu, you can be cared for at home. This is what you should do:
- Take plenty of rest.
- If you are suffering from chills, keep warm.
- Keep an eye on your temperature. A normal temperature is around 36-37°C, while 38°C indicates a fever.
- Use cooling products if you feel too hot.
- Eat nourishing food, including plenty of fruit and vegetables.
- Keep drinking water and other non-alcoholic beverages to prevent dehydration.
- For a blocked nose, inhale steam from your bath or shower in an enclosed room.
- For a sore throat, gargle warm salt water or sip hot water with honey and lemon juice.
Should I see my doctor?
While most people recover from flu within a week to ten days at home without complications, you should contact your doctor if the patient:
- Is younger than five years old
- Is over 65 years of age or resides in an aged care home
- Has heart or kidney disease, a long-term health condition like diabetes or respiratory issues like asthma
- Has a weakened immune system
- Is pregnant
- Is obese
- Is an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Island person
- Is homeless
- Is a smoker
How to avoid flu
The most effective step you can take is to get a flu vaccine. Vaccines are recommended for anyone aged six months or over and are normally available from mid-April every year — so why not put a note in your diary to remind you for next year’s flu season?
Good hygiene is another essential step to avoiding infection. Make sure that everyone in the household washes their hands regularly with soap and water and uses hand sanitiser in between hand-washing.
You should also clean areas in the house that are touched frequently, such as light switches, door handles, remote controls and keyboards, with sanitising wipes. Doing so prevents the spread of different infections, including the flu.
Stay away from crowded places if you can. However, if you do go out in busy areas, wear a face mask to prevent the spread of infection.
And you can follow an immune-boosting diet to help build up disease resistance. This can include:
- Fruits and vegetables that are high in vitamin C, such as oranges, grapefruits, tangerines, red capsicums, broccoli and spinach
- Garlic, which contains a compound called allicin that stimulates the immune system
- Sunflower seeds and almonds for their high vitamin E content
- Green tea, which contains plenty of antioxidants
Keeping flu in Australia at bay!
While flu can make you feel unwell and tired for a few days to a couple of weeks, most people recover from it without complications.
But the best option is to avoid it altogether. You can do this by getting vaccinated and taking care of your health and hygiene.
Trust FeverMates to help you do this — we offer a range of health and wellbeing products, including thermometers, cooling products, face masks and sanitisers. We’re dedicated to keeping flu in Australia at bay!