Protect yourself - and others - from flu

The flu virus typically peaks around this time of year and hospitals in Norfolk are seeing an increasing number of patients with flu symptoms.

Dr Louise Smith, Director of Public Health said: “If you have a bad cold or the flu, you are best to manage your illness from home, without seeing a doctor or visiting a hospital. You shouldn’t need to see your GP unless the symptoms become particularly severe, last far longer than usual or if you have a long-term health condition. If you think you might be suffering from flu and are concerned that your symptoms are worsening you can call NHS 111 for advice.”

Common symptoms of flu include a high temperature, fatigue, headache, general aches and pains and a dry, chesty cough. If you are generally fit and healthy you can usually manage the symptoms at home yourself without seeing a doctor. The best remedy is to rest at home, keep warm and drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration. Paracetamol or ibuprofen may help lower a high temperature and relieve aches. A pharmacist will be able to provide advice on medication.

People suffering with a cold or flu should avoid going into hospital, GP practice or other health setting to reduce the chance of vulnerable people catching the virus. The flu virus can be very dangerous for the elderly and the infirm particularly if they are already sick. This is a message that applies to people coming into hospital seeking treatment and to people coming to visit relatives.

Help to stop spreading colds and flu.

Colds and flu are caused by viruses and easily spread to other people. Germs from coughs and sneezes survive on hands and surfaces for up to 24 hours. You are infectious until all symptoms are gone which usually takes a week or two.

You can help prevent colds and flu spreading by using tissues to ‘catch it, kill it, bin it’. Washing your hands regularly with soap and water destroys bugs that you may have picked up from touching surfaces used by other people, such as light switches and door handles. It is also important to keep household items clean, including cleaning such items as cups, glasses and towels, especially if someone in your house is ill.

People with worsening symptoms or respiratory problems are advised not to visit a GP surgery or a hospital but to call their GP first or call NHS111 for further advice.