Dangers of Influenza and the Flu
High-Risk Groups for Cold and Flu
Flu may not seem like a dangerous virus. Just take it easy, drink an extra glass of orange juice or nutritional supplement and you’ll soon be back on your feet.
But beware: influenza kills hundreds of people in the UK every year and this number is rising. Those who are strong and healthy can indeed recover the flu on their own. However, risk groups such as small children, the elderly, and sick and pregnant women are more likely to have serious complications. Good preparation and timely intervention can prevent a lot of trouble.
How to prevent getting the Flu
This advice applies to everyone: the stronger your immune system, the less susceptible you are to flu, and the sooner you will fight off the infection. Eat healthily and drink plenty of water. Dietary supplements such as vitamin C and probiotics can support your resistance. Make sure you get enough sleep and have regular exercise.
This is the best way to prepare for all flu-like inconveniences. Good hygiene is also important. Sneeze or a cough in a tissue, wash your hands with hot water and soap, and regularly clean doorknobs, tables and other utensils to limit the spread of the virus as much as possible. If you belong to one of the risk groups, take extra precautions if you become ill.
Infants, toddlers and infants are particularly susceptible to viral infections. Their resistance is not yet fully developed, so they pick up the flu faster. In the UK, young children aged between 2-4 years and primary aged children from 5 to 9 are entitled to receive the vaccination in the form of a nasal spray. This is because small children can become very ill from the flu. The main symptoms are a high temperature, colds, coughing and crying. Make sure that your child keeps drinking. It is also important to keep a close eye on your child as small children are extra sensitive to dehydration and pneumonia.
When should you call the Doctor
• Your child becomes drowsy, is not easy to wake up or is unresponsive
• The fever lasts longer than 3 days
• Your child has a febrile convulsion
• Your child pees very little or not at all (this can be a sign of dehydration)
• Your child seems to be getting sicker
• You should also consult the doctor if there are any spots on the skin or if you are worried about the whole thing
Every year in the UK, the influenza virus takes the most victims among the elderly population. This group is particularly susceptible to complications such as pneumonia, which can sometimes prove fatal. If you are over 65, it is wise to get the flu jab. This vaccination protects against the most common types of virus.
If you are not vaccinated and you think you have it make sure to, go to the doctor as soon as possible. They can give you a virus-inhibiting medicine. You should take this as soon as possible, preferably within 48 hours after the first symptoms. If you have this, it is important to drink a lot. Call your doctor if the fever persists or if you feel anxious.
During pregnancy, your body has to work hard resulting in a lower resistance, making you more susceptible to flu. In principle, flu during pregnancy isn’t too harmful. Your baby won’t get sick in any case, although it is true that, in some case, a high temperature can cause contractions.
Call the GP or midwife if your temperature is higher than 38.5 degrees. You can also get an anti-flu vaccination during pregnancy if you usually have one.
Painful complaints can be treated with paracetamol in consultation with the GP or midwife. Then, it’s a matter of getting sufficient rest and looking after yourself.
Flu in people with a pre-existing health condition
Those who already have health problems should be extra careful when flu is prevalent. People suffering from diabetes, pulmonary, cardiovascular or other serious conditions are at greater risk of developing complications. These can vary from meningitis and pneumonia to dehydration.
To prevent getting this, you can get a flu vaccination. If you are infected with the virus, talk to the doctor immediately. They can give you extra medication if necessary to prevent you from becoming iller. Continue to drink plenty of fluids and get plenty of rest.