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Influenza

The FACTS about flu

InfluenzaThink You Have the Flu? Know the FACTS

Fever
Aches
Cough
Tiredness
Sudden symptoms

Flu is very different from another ailment such as a cold or just feeling under the weather. It knocks you flat! Flu is a much more serious illness. While most people can recover from a cold in two to three days, it can take up to two weeks for people to recover from flu. Flu symptoms hit you suddenly and severely and their effects can be debilitating. Its important to know the difference because if its the flu, the sooner you can get help from your doctor, the better.

Symptoms of Flu:

You may get any of the following symptoms:

  • a sudden fever (a high body temperature of 38°C/100.4°F or above),
  • a dry, chesty cough,
  • headache,
  • tiredness,
  • chills,
  • aching muscles,
  • limb or joint pain,
  • diarrhoea or stomach upset,
  • sore throat,
  • runny or blocked nose,
  • sneezing,
  • loss of appetite, and
  • difficulty sleeping.

Babies and small children with flu can also have the following symptoms:

  • lethargy (drowsy, unresponsive, limp or floppy), and
  • loss of appetite.

With 'normal' flu the symptoms should usually peak after two to three days and you should begin to feel much better within five to eight days. 

So far, most swine flu cases have been mild, with symptoms similar to those of seasonal flu. The main points to look out for relating to swine flu are:

  • If you have a serious existing illness that weakens your immune system, such as cancer,
  • If you are pregnant,
  • If you have a sick child under one, 
  • If your condition is still getting worse after seven days (five for a child).

Only a small number of people have had more serious symptoms, to ensure a correct diagnosis contact your local healthcare centre first, before visiting.

Treatment:

If you are usually fit and healthy, you can treat your symptoms of flu at home with the help of Paracetamol, bed rest and antivirals which may reduce the severity of symptoms and length of time that they last.

With regards to swine flu the treatment process is very similar with paracetamol and bedrest being the preferred options. However, stocks of antiviral medicines oseltamavir (Tamiflu) and zanamivir (Relenza) and antibiotics are also available to treat anyone who becomes ill during the current pandemic. 

Which people are most vulnerable from swine flu?

Those who are more at risk from becoming seriously ill with swine flu are people with:

  • chronic (long-term) lung disease, including people who have had drug treatment for their asthma within the past three years,
  • chronic heart disease,
  • chronic kidney disease,
  • diabetes,
  • pregnant women,
  • people aged 65 or older, and
  • young children under five.

Useful Links:

  • National Pandemic Flu service
    This service will assess the patient’s symptoms and, if required, provide an authorisation number, which can be used in England to collect antivirals from a local Antiviral Collection Point.
  • European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control
    European Influenza Surveillance Network (EISN): As of September 2008, the responsibility for the former activities of the European Influenza Surveillance Scheme (EISS) has been transferred to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC).
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
    This spring, a new influenza virus began causing illness in people and spreading around the world. Originally called “swine flu” because the virus genes were similar to some influenza viruses that infect pigs, the new virus has been named “novel H1N1.”
Last Updated 25-05-2010