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Influenza

Influenza

The flu (influenza) is a viral infection affecting your nose, throat and sometimes lungs. There are three strains of the influenza virus – influenza A, B and C and all are highly contagious and can be spread by fluids from coughing or sneezing, or direct contact with these fluids on surfaces.

 

People most at risk of being infected include children, the elderly, people with suppressed immune systems and those who work in the healthcare system, long-term housing facilities or with children.  

 

The influenza virus is responsible for widespread illness across the world as the virus is able to modify itself to evade detection from our immune system and spread quickly to others.      

 

Symptoms  

The influenza virus is different to the common cold viral strains; initial symptoms are similar but tend to present more quickly and be more severe than those of a cold. Symptoms of the flu include:  

  • Coughing  
  • Sneezing  
  • Dry nose  
  • Sinus congestion  
  • High fever (100-104?F/38-40?C)  
  • Sore throat  
  • Muscle ache  
  • Severe fatigue      

 

The flu can also lead to complications such as pneumonia or inflammation of the brain or heart, which can sometimes lead to death.      

 

Prevention  

Good hygiene is one of the most important ways to help prevent the spread of the flu virus. Ensure that you always cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze and wash your hands after you sneeze or cough.  

 

The best way to control influenza is to immunise against the condition – as the flu viruses are able to mutate, it is important to receive a flu vaccine annually. The Australian government under the National Immunisation Program has an incentive which can provide the vaccination for free for those who are most at risk.      

 

Treatment  

To manage the general symptoms of the flu, it is advised you stay in bed to rest, drink sufficient fluids to maintain normal urine output and avoid exposure to dust, alcohol, fumes and tobacco smoke as much as possible. Your GP will be able to provide you with a medical certificate so you can take the time you need to recover.  If you suspect you have the flu, it’s important to see your doctor for an accurate diagnosis and treatment.      

 

Disclaimer  

The content displayed on this webpage is intended for informational purposes and is a guide only. It does not replace or substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.   Information contained on this webpage must be discussed with an appropriate healthcare professional before making any decisions or taking any action based on the content of this webpage.  

 

Source:  

Better Health Channel http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.nsf/pages/flu_influenza?open  

Health Direct http://www.healthdirect.gov.au/colds-and-flu

 

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