Flu season is upon us

By Dr Wirin Bhatiani

It’s that time of year when lots of bugs and viruses are doing the rounds, and it’s likely that we’ll all suffer with at least one cold!

Colds can be a nuisance and for some people they can develop into something more serious if they have a long-term health condition or a low immune system.

But most of us can treat a common cold at home with plenty of rest, fluids and by keeping warm.

Influenza (or flu) on the other hand is far worse than a bad cold and can come on so quickly and make you feel so poorly that you may not be able to get out of bed.

If you already have health issues, such as diabetes, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), or heart failure, then it can have quite serious consequences and lead to complications that might see you ending up in hospital.

Other people who are particularly vulnerable to flu are the very young and very old. Children especially are classed as ‘super spreaders’ and if they come into contact with an elderly relative while carrying the flu virus then they could inadvertently make them extremely ill.

That’s why it’s so important to have the flu vaccine. If you’re entitled to a free vaccine then it means you need it – this includes over 65s, pregnant women, people with a learning disability and those with a long-term health condition. Children aged 2-10 can have a painless nasal spray.

People who work in the health and care system can also have a free vaccine as they are more likely to come into contact with members of the public who are vulnerable to infection.

Unfortunately, some people believe that the flu vaccine can give you flu but that simply isn’t the case. Your best defence against flu is the vaccination.

Even if you’re not entitled to a free one, you can still get protected from around £10 at your local pharmacy.

For more advice, go to our flu page.

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