Flu or influenza is a viral illness that occurs mainly in the winter months in South Africa. Influenza viruses can infect the nose, throat, sinuses, upper airways and lungs. In healthy children, young adults and middle-aged people the disease is mostly mild. Flu can however be life-threatening in older people, babies, toddles and people of any age who have underlying conditions.
How it is spread Flu spreads easily from person to person through droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes. It can spread when you touch other people or surfaces where droplets have landed.
Signs & Symptoms
Some or all of these symptoms may be present:
- a high fever with chills
- dry cough
- sore throat
- blocked nose or nasal discharge
- sweating and shivering
- muscle ache and pains
- a general feeling of being unwell
- fatigue and wanting to sleep all day.
The easiest way to prevent flu is to get vaccinated. Practice good hygiene and:
- wash your hands frequently
- do not touch your nose, eyes or mouth
- sneeze or cough into a tissue and throw it away afterwards
- try not to touch objects around you when in public places
- avoid close or prolonged contact with people with a cold or flu.
When you have flu it is important to stay in bed, drink enough fluids and to give your body time to fight the infection. Over-the-counter medicine may help relieve the symptoms, but will not fight the virus itself. Visit your doctor if your fever lasts for longer than two days, if your symptoms start to get severe or if you fall within one of the high risk groups for flu.