Best influenza treatment is prevention
As people start sneezing and crumpled tissues pile up, St John has timely reminder first aid tips if you, or someone with you, has influenza or ‘the flu’.
Influenza peaks in winter and is more than a bad cold.
People with the flu feel very unwell, have a high fever, muscle aches and pains, a sore throat (particularly in the beginning of the illness) and a cough.
They do not usually have a runny nose or sneezing.
Young children can also have diarrhoea and vomiting.
The best form of treatment is prevention.
You can help prevent influenza by being immunised and by reducing the spread of influenza.
See your GP immunisation.
Immunisation people who: Are pregnant. Have asthma. Have chronic lung diseases such as emphysema. Have diabetes. Have cancer. Have heart disease. Have kidney disease. Are over the age of 65 years. Influenza is spread by droplets.
You can reduce the spread by:
Staying at home and limiting close contact with other people.
Using disposable tissues and not re-usable handkerchiefs.
Coughing into a tissue or your elbow and not your hand.
Washing and drying your hands well.
Keeping surfaces touched by the person with the flu (e.g. bedside tables, surfaces in the bathroom and toys) clean by wiping them down with a
for household disinfectant.
In general, there are no magic treatments for the flu:
Specific anti- viral treatments ( such as tamiflu) reduce the severity and duration of symptoms if taken early.
They are particularly helpful for people at high risk such as the elderly and people with chronic health conditions. See your GP early in the onset of flu if you wish to discuss antiviral treatments.
Paracetamol or ibuprofen may be taken according to the instructions on the packet for headache or muscle aches and pains. In general, the presence of a fever is helpful for patients with an infection and does not require treatment with paracetamol or ibuprofen unless it is very high (greater than 39 degrees). Do not give medication containing aspirin to children.
Use salt-water drops (saline) to treat a stuffy nose in young children.
Antibiotics will not help people who have the flu and will only be prescribed for people who have bacterial complications as a result of the flu, such as pneumonia or an ear infection.
Most people with the flu will recover at home without specific treatment. People should see their GP if they feel very unwell or if they have chronic health conditions.
The flu can become lifethreatening. Call 111 and ask for an ambulance if the person with the flu is extremely unwell, for example they: Have difficulty breathing or are very drowsy or difficult to wake or
Have a seizure or fit) or faint or Cannot walk unaided. For more information stjohn.org.nz