04 April 2017
Summer has been and gone with autumn almost reaching its halfway point. This means flu season is fast approaching. Not to be confused with the common cold, the flu, or influenza virus, is highly contagious and can be debilitating.
The spread of flu is extremely easy, with transmission occurring via infected people coughing, sneezing and contaminating surfaces which others touch. The illness itself can leave you sick for weeks and feeling much like you’ve been hit by a bus! It is one nasty disease that contributes to over 3000 deaths in Australia each year.
What to expect with the flu
If you contract the flu, often carriers are contagious days before presenting with symptoms. This means infected people often spread the virus during this critical time, only falling ill later with symptoms potentially lasting weeks. A bout of the flu typically follows this pattern:
Days 1-3: Sudden appearance of fever, headache, muscle pain and weakness, dry cough, sore throat and sometimes a stuffy nose.
Day 4: Fever and muscle aches decrease. Hoarse, dry or sore throat, cough and possible mild chest discomfort become more noticeable. You may feel tired or flat.
Day 8: Symptoms decrease. Cough and tiredness may last one to two weeks or more.
How can I avoid giving the flu to other people?
Most otherwise healthy adults can be infectious for up to seven days once they become sick. It is always recommended to stay home if you are unwell to not only rest and recuperate but to avoid spreading the flu to others. In particular, avoid work, school or busy public places.
To help prevent spreading the flu, good cough etiquette is the way to do it. Coughing into tissues and disposing them immediately, coughing into your sleeve or sneezing into the inside of your elbow help to contain airborne fluids. Good hand hygiene in the form of regular hand washing with soap is also important, particularly if you cough into your hands.
Lastly, the flu vaccine is an excellent way to prevent yourself becoming infected!
How effective is the Flu Vaccine?
The influenza vaccination is 70 – 90% effective in preventing influenza specific illness in healthy adults. The flu is an ever mutating and changing virus so for continued protection an annual vaccination is recommended. It takes approximately two weeks to give you protection from the flu once you’ve received the injection and lasts about one year.