The number of reported cases of influenza-like illness (ILI) in Ireland has continued to increase in the past three weeks. People in high-risk groups are urged to get vaccinated against influenza. Influenza is expected to increase over the coming weeks and to circulate for at least the next 4 to 6 weeks.
Seasonal flu or Influenza is a highly infectious illness caused by a flu virus.
Seasonal flu can give you any of these symptoms:
sudden fever (a temperature of 38°C/100.4°F or above),
dry, chesty cough,
limb or joint pain,
diarrhoea or stomach upset,
runny or blocked nose,
loss of appetite, and
Your symptoms will usually peak after two to three days and you should begin to feel much better within five to eight days. A cough and general tiredness may last for two to three weeks.
The flu virus is spread in the small droplets of saliva coughed or sneezed into the air by an infected person. If you breathe in these droplets, you may become infected. Flu can also spread if someone with the virus touches common surfaces such as door handles with unwashed hands. Symptoms develop one to four days (two days on average) after being infected. People with flu are usually infectious (can spread the virus) a day before symptoms start, and remain infectious for five or six days. Children and people with weaker immune systems (such as cancer patients) may remain infectious for slightly longer. Try to avoid all unnecessary contact with others during this infectious period.
Seasonal flu is a very common illness that occurs every year, usually during the winter months (October to April in Ireland).
Your symptoms will usually peak after two to three days. You should begin to feel much better within five to eight days. However, elderly people or those with certain medical conditions may develop a complication such as a chest infection. This can lead to serious illness and can be life-threatening.
Healthy people with seasonal flu do not need to visit their GP as they will get better on their own by taking over-the-counter flu remedies, resting, and drinking plenty of fluids.
Caring for yourself at home
Make sure you have plenty of rest and are taking Paracetemol-based cold remedies to lower your temperature and relieve symptoms. Always read the medicine’s label or check with the pharmacist that it is suitable to take. Drink plenty of fluids while you are recovering. You may need to stay in bed for two or three days after your symptoms peak.
When you should see your GP
See your GP if any of the following applies to you:
Your symptoms have got much worse, or you have developed other symptoms that are not typical of seasonal flu, such as a rash.
Your symptoms have lasted for longer than a week.
You have a medical condition that is making your flu worse.
In regard to the flu vaccine:
· If you have a ‘Medical Card’ or ‘GP Visit Card’ and are in the ‘at risk’ category and over 18, the vaccine and consultation are free.
· If you do not have a ‘Medical Card’ or ‘GP Visit Card’ and are in the ‘at risk’ category and are over 18, the vaccine and consultation will cost €15.
· If you are not in the ‘at risk’ category and are over 18 but would still like to avail of the flu vaccine the consultation and vaccine will cost €30.