Influenza

Influenza (Flu)

In Australia, the influenza or ‘flu’ season typically occurs during the winter months. While flu cases can occur at any time of the year, they tend to increase in the cooler seasons, reaching a peak in August.

As we adapt to coexisting with COVID-19, it’s crucial to prioritise flu vaccination. This is now more important than ever, and it is equally essential to stay updated with COVID-19 boosters. Taking these preventive measures is vital to minimise the risk of falling ill and to prevent the potential strain on hospitals from seasonal flu and COVID cases.

Flu | Narangba Station Medical Centre

What is the Flu?

Influenza, commonly known as 'the flu,' is a highly contagious respiratory illness that annually affects thousands of Australians, often resulting in doctor visits, hospitalisations, and in some cases, fatalities.

The flu is primarily caused by two main types of viruses: influenza A and B, which are responsible for the regular seasonal flu outbreaks. While other types of flu viruses exist, they are not associated with the yearly epidemics experienced by humans. The seasonal flu vaccine is designed to protect against the A and B strains of the influenza virus.

Flu viruses target the body by spreading through the upper and lower respiratory systems, affecting the nose, throat, and occasionally the lungs. Although symptoms may resemble those of the common cold, the flu tends to manifest with more severe effects. Additionally, the flu can lead to serious complications, including life-threatening conditions such as pneumonia.

Flu germs

Symptoms

Flu symptoms can vary in intensity, ranging from mild to severe. The manifestation of these symptoms depends on factors such as age, lifestyle, family history, and overall health.

These symptoms often emerge suddenly, providing little warning. Common flu symptoms may include:

  • High fever, a feverish sensation, or chills
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Congested or runny nose
  • Body and muscle aches
  • Sinusitis
  • Headaches or migraines
  • Fatigue
  • Vomiting and diarrhea (more prevalent in children)

A cough, sore throat, and sinusitis typically initiate the onset of flu symptoms. As the illness progresses, more pronounced symptoms such as fever, chills, and muscle aches may develop. The severity and combination of symptoms can vary from person to person.

Causes

The flu spreads through close person-to-person contact, primarily through respiratory droplets released during coughing or sneezing.

Contracting the flu can occur by inhaling these droplets, engaging in activities like kissing an infected person, or touching surfaces that have been contaminated by coughing, sneezing, or touching from an infected person. The virus enters the body when you touch your hands to your nose, eyes, or mouth, leading to potential infection. It’s important to always cover your nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing and maintain regular hand hygiene to minimise the risk of transmission.

The flu virus can persist on surfaces for several hours, with a longer survival period on hard surfaces like stainless steel compared to softer surfaces such as fabric. Once flu symptoms appear, the infected person remains contagious for approximately seven days. Practicing good hygiene and taking preventive measures are essential in curbing the spread of the flu virus.

Flu Vaccination

Preventing the Flu

It’s important to receive your annual flu shot and adhere to good hygiene practices, such as regular handwashing after close contact with others, after using the bathroom, or before touching your face.

While there is no cure for the flu virus, it is possible to alleviate some common symptoms. Staying hydrated by consuming plenty of water and fluids is important, as it helps maintain moisture in the nose, mouth, and throat, facilitating the removal of phlegm and mucous build-ups. Replenishing water levels is particularly important if experiencing diarrhea or fever, as these conditions can lead to rapid fluid loss.

Quality sleep is also helpful as it supports a healthy immune system, aiding the body in fighting off the virus more efficiently. Prioritising sleep when dealing with the flu is essential for a speedy recovery.

The Flu Vaccination

Healthcare professionals are urging individuals to prioritise their flu vaccinations amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The Australian government has allocated additional funds to enhance the availability of flu vaccines, ensuring widespread access.

Under the National Immunisation Program (NIP) scheme, eligible people (mainly those in high-risk categories) can receive one government-funded vaccination each year. These people include:

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders aged 6 months or older
  • Children aged between 6 months and 5 years
  • Pregnant women at any stage of pregnancy
  • People aged 65 years or older
  • People over 6 months living with specific medical conditions, including cardiac or respiratory disease, diabetes, renal disease, neurological or haematological disorders, or those who are immunocompromised.

Even if you don't belong to a high-risk group, the Australian Department of Health recommends flu vaccinations for everyone aged 6 months or older. If you do not meet the criteria for a free vaccination, you have the option to purchase the vaccine privately at a flu vaccination clinic.

Side Effects

Receiving a flu vaccination may result in mild side effects for some individuals, such as soreness or swelling at the injection site, along with low-grade fever and body aches. It's worth noting that fever as a side effect affects only 1 to 2 percent of those who receive the flu shot.

While serious side effects are very rare, they may include:

  • Allergic reactions
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Swelling around the lips or eyes
  • Racing heart
  • Dizziness
  • High fever

In the event of experiencing severe side effects following a flu vaccination, it’s crucial to seek immediate medical attention.

Contact the friendly staff at Narangba Station Medical Centre for your flu shot this season.

Call us or book your appointment online

Bookings can be made online using our easy to use booking platform with AutoMed Systems. If you prefer to speak with our team, you can call us on 07 3521 4333.

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