With the highest rate of summer flu in Australia in a long time, the need to avoid the flu this winter is more crucial than ever. Flu is often overcome after a few days of bed rest, hot soup and a large dose of fresh orange juice for that Vitamin C hit. However, for the elderly or those with a weakened immune system, the flu can leave a nasty effect. Hospitalisation with flu can be a common occurrence for those over the age of 65, with a fear of it progressing to pneumonia.
With this in mind, our Crabourne doctors have come up with some ways to avoid the flu this winter and some tips on when to know if you should visit a doctor.
Symptoms of the Flu vs. Symptoms of a Cold
The symptoms of the flu and a cold are often confused, with some even believing that they are the same thing. It is important to note whether you have the flu, as this requires seeing a doctor in order to minimise the duration of your symptoms, however, a cold does not.
Synonymous symptoms of the flu and a cold include:
- Runny nose
- Sore throat
Additional flu symptoms include:
- Fever / Chills
- Aches in the body
- Chest discomfort
- Discoloured mucus
- Shortness of breath
How to avoid the spread of flu this winter
Get the flu vaccination
When discussing flu, this is no secret. The flu vaccination is extremely effective and will increase your likelihood of developing full immunity to the flu this winter.
At our bulk billing doctors in Cranbourne all consultation appointments & flu vaccine are free of charge.
Thoroughly wash hands
The flu is highly contagious and so good hygiene habits are extremely important, in order to reduce the risk of spreading. Our hands carry more bacteria than anywhere else on the body, making regular hand washing high on the priority list to avoid the flu this winter. It is recommended to lather soap in your hands for 15-20 seconds, making sure to rub in between all fingers and over all nails too.
According to the Australian Government, you should always wash your hands after:
- You have been to the toilet
- Coughing / sneezing / blowing your nose
- Being in contact with someone who has a cold or the flu
- Shaking someone’s hand
- Before touching your eyes, nose or mouth
- Before preparing food and eating
Carrying hand sanitiser is a good way to ensure your hands are clean at all times, without the need of water.
Look after your body
Looking after your body and boosting your immune system plays a crucial part in avoiding the flu this winter. Eating well, with an array of different protein-rich foods and ‘five-a-day’ fruit and veggies, in addition to staying well hydrated, implementing a good sleep pattern and taking part in regular exercise, all contribute to a healthy immune system, weakening the likelihood of catching the flu.
Cover your mouth and nose when coughing / sneezing
Due to the high level of contagiousness that the flu embodies, the virus is often expelled into the air after coughing or sneezing. This makes covering your face as your sneeze or cough extremely important when suffering from the flu, as it restricts the spreading of the virus.
Going back to the point made before about hands, try to avoid sneezing or coughing into your hands as this introduces a new risk of spreading. Instead, try to use your elbow instead of your hands to prevent the diffusion of germs and always remember to dispose of used tissues immediately.
Steer clear of those who are sick
The infectious manner of the flu means that you are able to catch it, simply just by being near someone who has it. As it’s hard to establish the differences between the flu and a cold, it’s recommended to just keep your distance from anyone who is unwell to protect yourself from catching it. With that being said, that means sharing food or drink with someone who is sick is a no-go too.
In addition to this, it is recommended to also clean frequently touched surfaces including door knobs, laptops and phones, just to ensure no bacteria is lingering.
Know the symptoms of flu
Knowing the symptoms of flu means that you know exactly what you have and how to treat it (a lot of fluid and rest being the main contender). You will also know that you need to see a doctor immediately, and with our specialist and professional doctors at Cranbourne Medical Centre, nothing could be easier.