Here's the answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about flu
1. What is flu?
Flu is an illness that can come on quite quickly; about one to three days after being in contact with someone who already has the infection.
2. Is it infectious?
Yes, flu is infectious. You can spread the virus without knowing it before you have any symptoms, and can still be infectious three to five days after you become unwell.
3. How can you get infected?
When someone who has flu coughs or sneezes, tiny droplets containing the flu virus come out of the nose and mouth. These droplets typically spread about one metre and hang in the air for a while before landing on surfaces, where the virus can survive for up to 24 hours.
Anyone who breathes in the droplets or touches the surfaces can carry the virus by hand to the mouth or nose and become infected themselves.
4. How do you feel when you have flu?
You’ll often feel very unwell, developing a fever, headache, body aches and lose your appetite. You can have a runny nose, cough and feel cold and shivery, even though your temperature might be high.
You’ll probably feel really bad for around two to three days, and then still feel unwell, tired and lacking energy for a number of days afterwards too.
5. Can I still go to school if I have flu?
If you have flu, you must avoid going to school as the illness is highly infectious.
You should also avoid close contact with elderly people and people with other illnesses (especially if they haven’t been immunised), as they are more likely to experience health problems if they were to catch it.
6. What’s the best way to stop the virus spreading?
The flu motto is ‘catch it, bin it, kill it’.
Catch your sneezes in a tissue before putting your used tissues in a bin or flush them down the toilet. You should also regularly wash your hands, especially before handling foods that other people may eat.
7. Is the flu virus the same all the time?
The viruses causing flu often change. This means people who have had flu before may still not be protected by their immune system, and get flu again.
This is why it’s so important to have your flu jab as this will keep you protected each year.
8. How common is flu?
There are outbreaks of flu in winter most years which can affect between 5% and 10% of the population.
That’s why having the flu vaccination is important, as you can reduce your risk of catching it
9. Do you need any special treatment to recover?
Most people recover fully from flu without the need for special treatment. Paracetamol or Ibuprofen can be taken for a high temperature, sore throat and headache, but always read the label on the packaging and discuss this with an adult first.
Some people may need treatment for complications, such as pneumonia, and a small percentage die (usually the elderly or those who already have health problems), but most people make a full recovery within a few days.
how to get help
If you have any more questions on this area or would like to speak to somebody about this topic, have a look at the links or search for your local services in the blue box below. Alternatively you can always contact your public health nurse.
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