What do you know about flue prevention?
Take the time to get a flu vaccine
■ A yearly flu vaccine is the first and most important step in the protection against influenza and its potentially serious complications.
■ While there are many different flu viruses, it protects against the three or four viruses which research suggests are the most common of the season. Three-component vaccines contain an H3N2, an H1N1 and a B Virus. Four-component vaccines contain an additional B Virus.
■ The flu vaccination can reduce illness, doctors’ visits, and missed work and school. The flu vaccine also prevents flu-related hospitalisation.
■ Flu vaccination has also proven to significantly reduce a child’s risk of dying from influenza.
■ Studies have shown that symptoms are milder if one falls ill after a flu vaccine.
■ Before the onset of the flu season, everyone from the age of six months should be vaccinated annually, ideally by the end of October.
■ High-risk patients are especially vulnerable, so it is important that they are vaccinated to minimise the risk of severe illness due to flu.
■ People at high risk of serious flu complications include young children, pregnant women, people with chronic health conditions such as asthma, diabetes or heart and lung disease and everyone over the age of 65.
■ Vaccination to avoid spreading the flu is also important for healthcare workers and for those who live with or care for high-risk individuals.
■ Infants younger than six months are at high risk of serious flu illness but are too young to be vaccinated. Studies have shown that flu vaccination of the mother during pregnancy can protect the baby after birth from flu infection for several months. People who live with or care for infants should be vaccinated.
Everyday preventive actions to avoid spreading germs:
■ Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
■ While sick, limit contact with others as much as possible to keep from infecting them.
■ If you are sick with flu, it is recommended that you stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone. The exception is if you need to seek medical care (fever should disappear within 24 hours without the need for fever-reducing medication).
■ Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the bin after use and wash your hands.
■ Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand scrub.
■ Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Germs spread that way.
■ Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with flu germs.
Take antiviral flu drugs if prescribed by your doctor
■ If you do become ill with flu, antiviral drugs can be used to treat your illness.
■ Antiviral drugs are different from antibiotics. They are prescription drugs and are not available over-the-counter.
■ Antiviral drugs can reduce the number of days you are ill. The symptoms will also be milder. They may also prevent serious flu complications.
■ For individuals with high-risk factors, treatment with an antiviral drug may mean the difference between having a mild illness versus a very serious illness that could result in a hospital stay.
■ Studies have shown that antiviral flu drugs work best when they are taken within 48 hours of the onset of symptoms, but even if this is not possible, taking them later can still be helpful, especially if the sick person is a high-risk patient or very ill from flu. Follow your doctor’s instructions when taking these drugs.
■ Flu symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Some people, especially children, may also suffer from vomitting and diarrhoea. It is also possible to be infected with the flu virus and have respiratory symptoms without a fever.
Article submitted by the Hospital Particular do Algarve Group.