TAKING a sick day is bound to leave you feeling guilty but if you’ve got flu doctors say you’re doing everyone a favour.
The nasty virus is highly contagious and is spread through close contact with people who are riddled with the germs.
Getty – Contributor If you start to have any symptoms of the flu you should stay home until you are well again
And so places like offices are perfect breeding grounds for the bugs, doctors told The Sun Online.
Cases of deadly “Aussie flu” have surged across the UK in the last week and experts have warned it is about to get worse as kids head back to school. Meanwhile, “Japanese flu” – a strain of influenza B – is said to feared to be spreading, particularly targeting kids.
Like any other strain of the flu, the H3N2 Aussie strain is highly infectious and is spread through droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
And flu expert Prof Robert Dingwall, from Nottingham Trent University, warned “Aussie flu” is likely to be more severe, bringing nastier symptoms than swine flu which turned into a global pandemic in 2009/10.
Getty – Contributor The flu is highly infectious and spread through droplets when people cough and sneeze
If you’re unlucky enough to get hit with a bout of flu you’re infectious for around four days before symptoms even rear their ugly heads – and for the first five days of being sick.
The virus can live outside the body for up to 24 hours and antibiotics are powerless to treat it.
So if you start to show signs of any of the symptoms, the bottom line is you should think about staying at home and resting until you feel better.
Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, chair of the Royal College of GPs, said: “Symptoms of the flu can include a very high fever that causes sweating and shaking, widespread muscle pains, diarrhoea and nausea, a nasty cough and sore throat.
Getty – Contributor The best way to recover from the flu is get plenty of rest and take paracetamol or ibuprofen to ease your symptoms
“People who have the flu should stay away from schools, hospitals, nursing homes and places there large groups of people are present.
“And specifically away from pregnant women, people who are frail, and the elderly as this can potentially heighten the risk of spreading infection in these particularly vulnerable groups.
“And for those who are working, soldiering on and trying to work when sick with the flu is not the answer- you’re only likely to make it worse, spread it to others and it will delay your recovery.”
The new H3N2 strain of the flu, which caused about 300 flu-related deaths in Oz, is feared to have spread to almost all UK areas with some 4.5 million people thought to have been struck down by flu over the past week, according to online tool FluSurvey.
Meanwhile figures from the NHS show that 1,078 people have been admitted to hospital with flu since October across 19 NHS trusts – of those 252 people were diagnosed with “Aussie flu”, a new mutation of the virus.
It means across the UK around 3,800 people are thought to have ended up in hospital with flu – with about 1,000 of those thought to be battling the “Aussie” H3N2 strain.
THE BEST MEDICATION TO COMBAT THE FLU
If you, or your child, is struck by the flu then paracetamol and ibuprofen can help relieve your symptoms.
Dr Mahendra Patel, a spokesman for the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, said: “Those are the most effective and most proven to have speedy reactions.
“Paracetamol is very good at treating high temperatures and fevers, but also gets rid of aches and pains.
“Ibuprofen is stronger in helping relieve aches and pains and fever.
“Paracetamol would be your first option really, and then you step on to ibuprofen if you need to.”
You can also mix the two, but it is always best to try one on its own first.
Children need a lower dose than adults and for really young children the medicine can be bought in liquid form.
Make sure you read the information on the box carefully before taking any medication.
If you are on anti-depressants, blood thinning medication, blood pressure tablets, have asthma or any other under-lying health conditions then you may not be able to take ibuprofen.
It is important to remember that long-term use of ibuprofen can cause bleeding in the stomach and paracetamol can also interfere with some medications.
The best thing to do if you are unsure about what you can and cannot take is speak to your pharmacist.
What are the key symptoms to look out for?
Symptoms of Aussie flu are the same as those caused by normal flu, but are more severe.
Here are some signs to look out for:
- Sore throat and cough
- Muscle ache
- Runny nose and sneezing
People should recover from normal flu within a week so, although the cough and fatigue may last longer.
There is no need to go to your GP unless you develop chest pains, difficulty breathing, start coughing up blood or the symptoms have lasted longer than a week.
Getty – Contributor The best way to protect yourself from the flu is to get vaccinated
Professor Stokes-Lampard added: “We encourage patients with the flu to self-care as much as they can.
“Nothing will cure the virus, only your own immune system fighting it off internally, but there are various options to help minimise the symptoms of flu and allow your body the best chance to recover more quickly.
“Although we are reaching peak flu season, we want to reassure patients that in addition to personal hygiene measures like regular hand washing and disposing of used tissues after sneezing, the influenza vaccine remains the best protection against flu this winter period.
“In cases of the flu, plenty of rest and fluids, along with either paracetamol or ibuprofen can help to reduce the impact of the symptoms and minimise the toll it takes on the body.