Bless you

Pre­ven­tion is bet­ter than cure, says DR MATT PICCAVER, es­pe­cially when it comes to flu

EDP Norfolk - - Inside -

Dr Matt on the per­ils of flu and what to do about it

“I’ve sug­gested we find other bunting for dif­fer­ent times of the year. Think Cath Kid­ston, but with more prostates”

’TIS the sea­son to be snotty. Or it will be very soon. The cy­cle of life in a GP surgery turns to the mass call for peo­ple to get their flu jab; you may al­ready have no­ticed posters, bunting, and leaflets in your lo­cal surgery.

My re­cep­tion counter is cur­rently decked with lengths of bright yel­low bunting, ad­ver­tis­ing flu jabs, like a clin­i­cal Christ­mas dec­o­ra­tion. I’ve sug­gested we find other bunting for dif­fer­ent times of the year. Think Cath Kid­ston, but with more prostates. It didn’t go down well.

The flu vac­ci­na­tion is an im­por­tant part of our ar­se­nal to keep peo­ple well dur­ing win­ter months. Ev­ery day is like a win­ter’s day in the NHS at the mo­ment, as any of you who have been to hos­pi­tal or your lo­cal clinic will know. It is busy with an ever-in­creas­ing tide of peo­ple need­ing our help. Pre­ven­tion is bet­ter than cure and in the case of flu, there isn’t re­ally much of a cure any­way. There are a few an­tivi­rals that some peo­ple might get of­fered, but by and large they aren’t up to much, which leaves us pretty much with pre­ven­tion.

How do we pre­vent our­selves from get­ting flu? Don’t go near any­one else would be a start, al­beit one that isn’t par­tic­u­larly prac­ti­cal. I try, but some­how peo­ple keep find­ing me. And they’re all ill. Must be some­thing to do with the sign on the out­side of the build­ing.

Good hand hy­giene can help pre­vent the spread of coughs and colds, with flu be­ing a ma­jor cause of them.

The flu jab is an­other way to pre­vent your­self from get­ting flu and this year will be of­fered to peo­ple over the age of 65, chil­dren be­tween the ages of two and eight, younger chil­dren in at the at-risk groups, preg­nant women, peo­ple liv­ing in res­i­den­tial/nurs­ing homes, car­ers (this is a very broad group of peo­ple) and, new for this year, the mor­bidly obese (which is any­one hav­ing a body mass in­dex of over 40).

At-risk groups in­clude those with long-term res­pi­ra­tory con­di­tions, such as asthma or chronic ob­struc­tive pul­monary disease, long-term heart con­di­tions, chronic kid­ney and liver disease, long-term neu­ro­log­i­cal prob­lems (such as MS, or Parkin­son’s Disease), those with a weak­ened im­mune sys­tem due to cer­tain dis­eases or med­i­ca­tions and peo­ple with­out a spleen. You’d prob­a­bly know if you didn’t have a spleen.

This doesn’t re­ally leave out much of the UK pop­u­la­tion re­ally.

Many surg­eries have mass flu clin­ics, and our surgery is no ex­cep­tion. Two week­ends in Oc­to­ber and we man­age to vac­ci­nate sev­eral thou­sand peo­ple. Keep an eye out in your area for the dates of your lo­cal flu clin­ics.

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