Queensland is in the grips of a horror flu season, but how much do you really know about the flu?
Across the state last year, fewer than 11,800 cases of influenza were confirmed. But so far this year, more than 37,000 people have been struck down by the illness and numbers are continuing to climb.
The home doctor experts at House Call Doctor share all you need to know about the flu so you can get on top of it this season.
What is the flu?
Influenza – most commonly referred to as the flu – is a highly contagious viral disease that attacks the respiratory system,resulting in widespread illnesses and infections. It occurs most frequently throughout winter months in Australia from June to September, and is contractable through a multitude of strains for example, Influenza A and B. Transferred through contact with bodily fluids, the viral infection sets in by spreading through the upper and lower respiratory tract and affects the nose, throat and lungs.
What are the symptoms?
The most common symptoms include:
- Nasal Congestion
- Sore throat
- Body aches
- High temperatures resulting in fevers
- Chills and sweating.
For those only mildly impacted by the virus these symptoms may only last for a brief period of time from approximately oneto two weeks. However, those more severely affectedmay become seriously ill and potentially contract life-threatening diseases such as pneumonia and bronchitis.
Who is at high risk?
While thousands of people suffer from the flu each year and anyone is susceptible to contracting viral diseases, those at a higher risk of complications include:
- Adults aged 65 years or older
- Children under the aged of 5 years
- Pregnant women
- Those suffering from weak immune systems
- People experiencing chronic illnesses – for example asthma.
Is it treatable?
In mild cases, the flu is not typically treated with any medication other than perhaps a paracetamol to lessen pain and relieve fever symptoms. Traditional treatments include drinking plenty of fluids and bed rest to ensure that you’re back on your feet feeling better than ever.
Those more seriously affected may need to visit their GP or be hospitalised in order to receive anti-viral or other forms of medication to help reduce the illness.
The most common and effective form of prevention is vaccinations. As strains of the flu vary each year it is important for adults and children to receive the Flu Vaccine each year. This helps to not only boost your immune system but help prevent those around your who may fall victim to the common flu.