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Don't fall foul of flu

by Nadine Baggott

Millions of workers could face nearly a week off work with the flu this winter as it’s named as the main cause for workplace absence.

When is a cold not a cold? When it is flu. So many people confuse the two and talk about having flu when they really just have a bad cold, but you will be bed ridden with flu as the virus causes aching bones and muscles, high temperature, shivers and even mild delirium, you will almost certainly have night sweats and feel very sleepy. There is little chance that you can battle on with flu, and it is highly contagious so you shouldn’t be out in public with it anyway.

According to a new survey by Well pharmacy we dread getting the flu but do little to prevent it happening, including ignoring advice to have the flu jab. Three quarters of the nation fails to take preventative medicine, according to the study and nearly half don’t opt for a flu jab at all as they don’t feel they need one.

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According to the study of 2,000 people it is the young who ignore the health advice and yet are most at risk of getting flu with the 16-29 year olds say that they get flu most often, yet three quarters of this age group are the most reluctant to invest in precautionary treatments. It’s this nationwide failure to take preventative measures that is contributing to workers taking four days off sick on average each year, costing UK businesses millions of pounds.

So who should be having the flu jab?

Flu vaccination is available every year on the NHS to help protect adults and children at risk of flu and its complications. Studies have shown that the flu jab does work and will help prevent you getting the flu. It won't stop all flu viruses and the level of protection may vary between people, so it's not a 100% guarantee, but if you do get flu after vaccination it's likely to be milder and shorter lived than it would otherwise have been.

Flu can be unpleasant, but if you are otherwise healthy it will usually clear up on its own within a week. However, flu can be more severe in certain people, including anyone aged 65 and over, pregnant women, children and adults with an underlying health condition (particularly long-term heart or respiratory disease), children and adults with weakened immune systems.

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The injected flu vaccine is offered free on the NHS annually at your GP, local pharmacy and midwife, if pregnant, to:

  • Adults over the age of 18 at risk of flu (including everyone aged 65 and over)
  • Pregnant women
  • Children aged six months to two years at risk of flu

Children With Flu

Flu and a high temperature can panic even the calmest parent, follow these simple steps to comfort your child and minimise any health risks risks.

  • If your child appears to be unwell, remain calm and take their temperature to see if there’s fever
  • Monitor your child’s temperature regularly, including during the night. If their fever is high, increase the frequency up to once an hour. Note the different measurements and the time in order to provide your doctor with this information
  • Dress your child in light clothing and cover with just a sheet
  • Keep the room temperature comfortable below 19ºC/20ºC
  • If your child is suffering from diarrhoea, give small amounts of liquids at regular intervals to prevent dehydration
  • Wash your hands frequently to limit the spread of infections
  • If you are in doubt, always consult your doctor. If the fever is very high or accompanied by other serious symptoms, call your doctor immediately

Health Notes

Hot Not Bothered – It can be hard to take your own temperature and that of a sick child, try the Braun ThermoScan 3 Ear Thermometer £34.99, from Boots.

Designed to measure the heat generated by the eardrum and surrounding tissue, delivering a fast temperature measurement in just one second with clinically proven accuracy. Soft and gentle in the ear the thermometer sounds a beep to signal the end of the reading.

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Oh Baby - Despite the flu vaccination being recommended and offered by the NHS for free during pregnancy, 56% of mums-to-be did not have one last year. Boots UK is encouraging more pregnant women to have the flu vaccination at their local pharmacy this winter, as having the vaccination helps safeguard mum and baby from preventable complications that can arise from catching flu, whilst also providing some protection to the unborn child for the first few months of its life.

Honey Honey – Honey not only soothes a tickly cough and sore throat it is thought to help boost your immunity to bugs, try Real Health Australian Manuka Honey £23.99, from Boots in hot water with the juice of a freshly squeezed lemon.

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Jab Job - Independent pharmacy chain Well is offering private vaccinations for £9 with no appointment necessary. For more information on Well’s flu vaccination service, visit well.co.uk and search flu

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Herbal Helper – If you want to boost your immunity and ease cold symptoms and don’t want to rely on medicines you can try Echinacea a herbal supplement many people rely upon in winter. Try Bioforce A.Vogel Echinaforce Tablets £4.50, for 42 from Holland and Barrett.

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