Fight the flu this winter
We’re days away from winter, and although preventing flu is not always possible, good hygiene, avoiding those who are sick, and getting a flu injection can help to minimise your risk.
Cold vs Flu
Let’s cover the basics and explain the difference between a cold and flu. Although the symptoms are the same, it’s the intensity of them that are dramatically different. With a cold, the symptoms you may experience are a mild fever, runny/blocked nose, headache, sore throat, and perhaps a light cough. You usually feel terrible for 4/5 days, but in 7 to 10 days you are your old self and healthy again. Flu’s symptoms include muscle pains, very high fever, runny/blocked nose, sore throat, and a cough. Sounds the same as a cold, right? Except that flu forces you to stay in bed for several days and it usually takes two weeks for a full recovery.
When you don’t want to experience the aforementioned symptoms, we suggest getting a vaccine as the most effective way of fighting flu. Basically, it’s an injection of inactivated viruses to prompt your immune system to produce antibodies – proteins that neutralise viruses. The body recognises the invader and starts to make preparations to fight these strains of flu. So, if you’re exposed to real flu viruses, your body is ready to fight it. No vaccine is 100% effective, but if you end up with flu it’ll be short-lived, and you’ll recover much quicker. The flu vaccine covers only the most common flu viruses for the year, and not the common cold or any other virus such as the Coronavirus.
The best time to get a flu vaccination is before the flu season sets in – now, before the end of April.
Are you at risk?
Most people will benefit from the flu vaccine, but there are a couple of people that shouldn’t hesitate in taking the vaccine:
- Pregnant women in their second or third trimester in the winter.
- Adults and children over six months old with a chronic health condition or weakened immune systems such as HIV-positive individuals, or people undergoing radiation or chemotherapy for cancer.
- People over the age of 65.
- Residents of long-term care or chronic-care facilities and rehabilitation institutions.
- Caregivers of babies and young children.
- Children on long-term aspirin therapy.
- Anyone with regular, close contact with these high-risk people.
- People with one or more medical conditions with increased risk.
The following people can’t get vaccinated:
- Babies younger than six months.
- People allergic to eggs.
- Anyone who already has a fever.
- Anyone with a past reaction to a vaccine.
If you’re at risk, have a medical condition, or there’s a lot of flu going around, antiviral medication is recommended, which includes prescription pills, liquids, or inhalers.
Whether you have the flu or not, it’s also best to practice general personal hygiene. These include everything that we’re already familiar with, such as washing your hands regularly with soap and water, to cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you sneeze or cough, and to avoid touching your nose, eyes or mouth. Also, boosting your immune system with supplements and vitamins such as Echinacea, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Selenium and Propolis, will help with the prevention.