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What you should know about flu symptoms

Flu symptoms affect around 15 million people in the UK alone, every year. One major issue people have with flu is what to do about treatment. In many ways, suffering from flu can seem like an extremely heavy cold. So should you even bother your GP, or just let it run its course?

Flu symptoms and what to do about them

An important point to make from the outset is the fact that flu symptoms are quite different to those of a common cold. Flu can be a serious condition for young children or the elderly. It is caused by the influenza virus, which is highly infectious. It has far more serious consequences than a cold.

The symptoms can hit patients very suddenly. These include fever, aches in the body and head, complete fatigue, as well as the more ‘cold-like’ symptoms of coughing, a sore throat or a blocked nose. The condition usually lasts for up to a week.

There are three strains of the influenza virus. These are known as A, B and C, with the latter being the mild variant. These viruses are all spread by respiratory droplets in the air that are caused when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Once contact has been made, it will spread quickly. Within a day or so the next person in the infection chain will succumb to the classic symptoms.

The good news is that most sufferers make a full recovery. However, young children are particularly vulnerable, since they haven’t lived long enough to have developed any immunity. For older people, immunisations are available at their local medical practice, free of charge.

Serious flu symptoms

Most flu outbreaks are seasonal, particularly during the cold winter months. There have been pandemic occurrences over the years but these have been rare and the medical establishment are always developing vaccines to try and counter these.

A recent instance was the so-called Bird Flu, a type A virus, that occurs amongst wild birds and is deadly to domestic fowl. A variant, H5N1 can b e passed to humans.

Treatment of flu symptoms

Because flu is caused by a virus rather than bacteria, antibiotics are no use. The classic treatment involves resting and drinking fluids. Aspirin or other over-the-counter solutions can be taken with your chemist's advice. If you are at all concerned, consult your GP. It is imperative to try and prevent flu symptoms spreading. Always cover your mouth when you feel a sneeze or cough.

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