Are There Carriers Of Influenza
No, not in the sense of people going around for days unwittingly spreading influenza. Some people may become infected with an influenza virus without experiencing any symptoms or only having mild symptoms for a short period. This may be how some people catch influenza without recalling having been in contact with anyone with the disease. However, it is thought that those without symptoms, or with minor symptoms, are generally less infectious than those with stronger symptoms.
Can You Tell If It’s The Flu Or Covid
The second flu season of the pandemic is off and running, and every cough and sniffle will carry an extra worry: possible COVID-19 infection.
With influenza and the usual cold-weather respiratory infections in circulation, along with COVID-19, it’s not always easy to sort out what’s ailing you if you do get sick.
We talked to UC San Francisco emergency care physician Jahan Fahimi, M.D., and infectious disease specialist Peter Chin Hong, M.D., about the differences between flu and COVID-19, when to get a test, and why you shouldn’t try to diagnose yourself.
Note: If you think you’re experiencing a life-threatening or severe condition, call 911 or go directly to the nearest emergency department.
Is it possible to tell the difference between flu symptoms and COVID-19 symptoms?
“I think it’s tough because the flu and COVID-19 can have a variety of overlapping symptoms,” said Fahimi. Those can include fever, chills and body aches, upper respiratory symptoms like runny nose and sore throat, lower respiratory symptoms like cough and pneumonia, and gastrointestinal symptoms like nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.
“While certain symptoms are slightly more associated with one virus than the other, there’s enough overlap that there’s uncertainty,” cautioned Fahimi. “So we wouldn’t use the presence or absence of those symptoms to rule in or out either illness.”
Does COVID-19 have any telltale symptoms?
What should you do if you feel sick?
Do COVID-19 and the flu spread differently?
Dispelling Misinformation About The Flu Vaccine Sickness Treatment And Recovery
If you’ve ever had the flu, you know how sick you can be. Chances are good that some of the advice friends and family gave you about avoiding or dealing with the flu was wrong. There seems to be no shortage of misinformation and bad advice when it comes to dealing with the flu and the flu shot.
Here are 10 common myths about the flu.
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I Think I Have Influenza Should I See A Doctor
Anyone at a higher risk of serious illness with flu-like symptoms should see their doctor as soon as possible.
Most people who are generally healthy wont need to see their doctor for the flu. As symptoms of the flu are similar to COVID-19, talk to your doctor about testing for COVID-19 infection.
If you have the flu, try to rest, maintain a good fluid intake, and manage your symptoms. This will help you recover and prevent dehydration. Your immune system will fight the infection and symptoms will usually clear up on their own.
If you do need to see a GP for your symptoms, make sure you call ahead first so they can make sure theres no one in an at-risk group around when you have your appointment.
What Causes The Flu
Flu is caused by the type A, type B or rarely the type C influenza virus. Only types A and B cause major outbreaks and severe disease, while type C can cause an illness in children similar to the common cold.
Colds and flu are very contagious viral infections and you can catch a cold or flu at any time of the year, not just in winter however they are more common during the winter months. This may be because people are more likely to stay indoors and be in close contact with each other.
If you have a cold or flu and you sneeze or cough, tiny droplets of fluid containing the virus are launched into the air. These droplets spread about 1 metre and are suspended in the air for a while so they can be breathed in by someone else who may then become infected.
These tiny droplets of fluid can also land on surfaces. Anyone who touches these surfaces can catch a cold or flu if they pick up the virus on their hands and then touch their nose or mouth.
If you have a cold or flu and you touch your mouth or nose and then touch a person or object without first washing your hands, then you can transfer the virus to that person or object.
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Flu: What To Do If You Get Sick
Influenza can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death. Flu symptoms usually come on suddenly. People who have flu often feel some or all of these symptoms:
- fever* or feeling feverish/chills
- some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults.
*Its important to note that not everyone with flu will have a fever.
Looking After Yourself When You Have Influenza
The best things you can do to look after yourself when you have the flu are:
- Rest you will probably feel very weak and tired until your temperature returns to normal . Rest provides comfort and allows your body to use its energy to fight the infection.
- Stay at home stay away from work, school and any places where you may have contact with others, especially while you are contagious. The period during which adults are contagious is usually around 35 days from when the first symptoms appear, and up to 7 days in younger children.
- Drink plenty of fluids extra fluids are needed to replace those lost because of the fever . If your urine is dark, you need to drink more. Try to drink a glass of fluids, such as water, every hour while you are awake.
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Feed A Cold Starve A Fever
Common wisdom says that you should starve a fever, but the old saying just isnt true. There is absolutely no benefit to not eating when you are sick, unless the illness is in your digestive tract. In fact, food will help you keep up your strength and give your immune system the energy it needs to fight the virus. Drinking liquids is also very important when you have a fever because you can become dehydrated quickly.
For most people the flu is unpleasant but not serious. Anyone at risk for complications, however, should see a doctor if they suspect the flu. These people include:
- those with chronic illness
- those with a compromised immune system
Even people who are usually healthy can have a flu that progresses into a worse illness. If you do not feel better after a couple of days, see your doctor.
How Is The Flu Diagnosed
Based on your symptoms and how you look, your doctor usually can tell if you have the flu. Most people who have it look ill and miserable.
Other infections can cause symptoms similar to the flu. So if a doctor needs to be sure that someone has the flu, they might do a test. They’ll take a sample of mucus by wiping a long cotton swab inside the nose or throat. Results might be ready quickly, or can take longer if the test is sent to a lab.
You may feel miserable if you get the flu, but it’s unlikely to be serious. It’s rare that healthy teens get other problems from the flu. Older adults , young kids , and people with ongoing medical conditions are more likely to become seriously ill with the flu.
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How Can I Avoid Getting Influenza
Getting an influenza vaccine every year is recommended for everyone aged 6 months or older. People in the above groups are eligible for free flu vaccination each year under the National Immunisation Program.
While not 100% effective, the flu vaccine provides a high level of protection and can reduce symptoms in those still getting sick.
can be co-administered with a flu vaccine. There is no requirement for a time interval between these vaccines.
Wearing a face mask and practicing good hand hygiene can help to reduce your chances of catching the flu or passing it on to others.
How To Get A Flu Vaccine
Flu vaccines are safe and effective. They’re offered every year on the NHS to help protect people at risk of flu and its complications.
The best time to have a flu vaccine is in the autumn before flu starts spreading. But you can get vaccinated later.
A flu vaccine is given to people who:
- are 65 and over
- have certain health conditions
- are in a long-stay residential care
- receive a carer’s allowance, or are the main carer for an older or disabled person who may be at risk if you get sick
- live with someone who has a weakened immune system
- are frontline health workers
- are social care workers and cannot get the vaccine through work
People aged 50 and over can also get a flu vaccine from mid-October 2022.
The children’s nasal spray flu vaccine is given to:
- children aged 2 or 3 on 31 August 2022
- all primary school children
- some secondary school children
- children aged 2 to 17 with certain health conditions
Babies and children aged 6 months to 2 years with certain health conditions will be offered a flu vaccine injection instead of the nasal spray.
You can have an NHS flu vaccine at:
- your GP surgery
- a pharmacy offering the service
- some maternity services if you’re pregnant
Sometimes, you may be offered a flu vaccine at a hospital appointment.
School-aged children will be offered a vaccine at school or a community clinic.
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Avoid: Taking A Cold Shower Or Bath To Reduce Fever
According to the Cleveland Clinic, a fever is the body’s way of fighting an infection. What constitutes a fever? For adults, it’s a temperature of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or more. For children, it’s 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or more when measured rectally, 99.5 degrees Fahrenheit when measured through the mouth, and 99 degrees Fahrenheit when measured under the arm.
When you feel feverish and sweaty, taking a cool shower or bath may seem like a good idea, but doctors don’t recommend it . It sounds counter-intuitive, but cool water increases the core body temperature. If you want to bathe, take a lukewarm shower or bath. If you’re experiencing body aches, try taking a bath in water with Epsom salts and baking soda .
For a mild fever , staying well hydrated and getting lots of rest are highly recommended . You can also take acetaminophen or ibuprofen for higher temperatures to control your fever. If your temperature stays at 103 degrees Fahrenheit or above for more than two hours after treatment or the fever lasts more than two days, contact your doctor. You should also contact your doctor if the fever is accompanied by a stiff neck, confusion, dehydration, irritability, rashes, or seizures.
How Do I Protect Myself And My Family Against Influenza
The risk of contracting influenza or transmitting it to others can be reduced by taking the measures set out below.
- Frequent hand-washing which reduces the risk of contracting influenza during the influenza season. It also protects against a number of other infections.
- Proper respiratory hygiene – covering the mouth and nose and using a disposable handkerchief when coughing or sneezing.
- Staying at home if unwell with a fever. People who develop a fever and respiratory infection should be advised to stay at home. Those infected with influenza are most infectious to others during the early stages of the illness.
- Routine annual vaccination where recommended. The influenza vaccine offers good protection and people who are at high risk of infection should be vaccinated. Specific vaccination policies for influenza may vary from country to country. In some countries the elderly and others in risk groups are also offered vaccination against bacterial pneumonia .
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Avoid: Mixing Lots Of Over
When you’re not feeling well, your first instinct might be to go to the drugstore and buy anything and everything in the cold remedy aisle that promises to relieve your symptoms and make you feel better fast. However, just because over-the-counter medications don’t require a prescription doesn’t mean you can throw caution to the wind when using them. Taking too much of them can worsen your symptoms — and mixing too many medications can be especially dangerous.
For example, using a decongestant spray for more than three days can worsen your congestion when you stop using it . Additionally, mixing acetaminophen with OTC cold remedies that treat multiple symptoms is a recipe for disaster. Most multi-symptom medications already contain acetaminophen to help treat fever and body aches. According to Harvard Health Publishing, taking too much acetaminophen can result in liver toxicity or fatal liver damage.
Be sure to read the labels on all your medications. Some of these products treat three to four different symptoms. Only take the product if you have all the symptoms listed. Taking a drug that treats a symptom you don’t have is unnecessary, and could even cause side effects.
Difference Between Influenza And Covid
and the flu can be similar.
If you are unwell with flu-like symptoms, contact the COVID-19 hotline on or your GP to check if you require COVID-19 testing.
The symptoms of COVID-19 to watch out for are:
- loss or change in sense of smell or taste
Some people may also experience headache, muscle soreness, stuffy nose, nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea.
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If I Would Like To Wear A Mask When Should I Do It And Which Type Of Mask Should I Wear
There are certain times when it makes more sense to wear a mask. If there is no influenza circulating, there is little value in wearing a mask. A mask can be worn in confined public spaces, such as shops, supermarkets, transportation hubs and when using public transport, as well as in crowded outdoor settings where physical distancing is not possible. For most people the risk of catching influenza is low unless someone close to them becomes ill. The following considerations apply for different face masks:
Avoid: Alcohol Caffeine Sugar Dairy Products And Spicy Foods
According to the Cleveland Clinic, sick people should avoid foods that are dehydrating or hard to digest, weaken the immune system, and worsen symptoms.
For instance, while a hot toddy may sound like a good idea, you should actually avoid alcohol when you’re sick. Not only is alcohol dehydrating, but it also negatively affects your immune system’s strength. Also, mixing alcohol with acetaminophen or other OTC medications could damage the liver .
Avoid caffeinated and sugary drinks like coffee, tea, and soda. Caffeine is both dehydrating and stimulating, which can make it challenging to get the rest you need. Instead, drink decaffeinated coffee or caffeine-free herbal teas. Sugary sodas increase inflammation and have no nutritional value, so drink watered-down fruit juice instead. Dairy products like milk and cheese can aggravate congestion by increasing mucus production. Instead of eating ice cream to soothe a sore throat, have an ice pop.
Lastly, spicy foods can help clear out congestion in the nose, but may be too much when you’re already trying to fight a runny nose. Stay away from spicy foods for the first few days until you get your symptoms under control.
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No Symptoms Present In Three Quarters Of Those Infected
The researchers used data from The Flu Watch study to calculate nationally representative estimates of flu incidence, the proportion of infections that were symptomatic, and how many symptomatic infections led to medical attention.
Results of the study reveal that around 18% of the unvaccinated community were infected with flu each winter season and during the 2009 pandemic.
However, 77% of these infections did not show any symptoms, and only 17% of people with confirmed cases of flu visited a doctor.
Additionally, the study showed that compared with some seasonal flu strains, the pandemic strain from 2009 caused much milder symptoms.
Most people dont go to the doctor when they have flu. Even when they do consult, they are often not recognized as having influenza. Surveillance based on patients who consult greatly underestimates the number of community cases, which in turn can lead to overestimates of the proportion of cases who end up in hospital or die.
As such, he says information on this community burden is therefore critical to inform future control and prevention programs.
The team says their findings show that rate of influenza across all winter seasons was around 22 times higher than rates of disease recorded by the Royal College of General Practitioners Sentinal Influenza-Like Illness Surveillance Scheme.
This shows that surveillance in the community has underestimated the magnitude of infection and illness.