The change in weather signals the start of the cold and flu season in Dubai, here are some fast facts to help you prepare for flu this coming winter.
Influenza, or flu, is a respiratory illness caused by a virus. Flu is highly contagious and is normally spread by the coughs and sneezes of an infected person. Although unpleasant, flu is rarely life-threatening.
You can also catch flu by touching an infected person, for instance, shaking hands. Adults are contagious 1-2 days before getting symptoms and up to 7 days after becoming ill. This means that you can spread the influenza virus before you even know you are infected.
Three types of flu exist – Influenza A, Influenza B, and Influenza C. Types A and B viruses causes seasonal epidemics that hit the United States and Europe virtually every winter. The Type C influenza virus causes mild respiratory illness and is not responsible for outbreaks.
Often, fatigue is one of the earliest signs of flu and cold. With flu, the fatigue is often extreme. Other early symptoms can include cough, sore throat, fever, body ache, chills, and gastrointestinal changes.
Symptoms of flu:
1. High temperature
2. Cold sweats and shiver
4. Aching joints and limbs
5. Fatigue, feeling exhausted
There may also be gastrointestinal symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhoea; these are much more common among children than adults. Normally, symptoms linger for about 1 week. However, the feeling of tiredness and gloom can continue for several weeks. It is worth noting that not every person with flu will have all of the symptoms; for instance, it is possible to have flu without the fever.
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As flu is caused by a virus, antibiotics cannot help, unless the flu has led to another illness caused by bacteria. Antivirals, such as oseltamivir (Tamiflu) and zanamivir (Relenza), may be prescribed in some circumstances.
Some painkiller such as aspirin, should not be given to children under 12.
Individuals with flu should:
1. Stay at home
2. Avoid contact with other people where possible
3. Keep warm and rest
4. Consume plenty of liquids
5. Avoid alcohol
6. Stop smoking
7. Eat if possible
Flu Risks and Complications
In the majority of cases, flu is not serious – it is just unpleasant. For some people, however, there can be severe complications. This is more likely in very young children, in the elderly, and for individuals with other longstanding illness that can undermine their immune system.
The risks of experiencing severe flu complications are higher for certain people:
1. Adults over 65 years old
2. Babies or young children
3. Pregnant women
4. Individuals with heart or cardiovascular disease
5. Those with chest problems, such as asthma or bronchitis
6. Individuals with kidney disease
7. People with diabetes or disease that reduce immune system function.
There are two types of vaccinations, the flu shot and the nasal-spray flu vaccine. The flu shot is administered with a needle, usually in the arm - it is approved for anyone older than 6 months, including healthy people and those with chronic medical conditions.
The nasal-spray flu vaccine is a vaccine made with live, weakened flu viruses that do not cause illness.
For more information or to book an appointment, please visit Medcare or press ‘Click to Contact’ to submit your inquiries.
Dr. Adel Taha El Hamamsy
Specialist Pediatrics, Neonatology
Mob: +971 56 2122169
MEDCARE Medical Centre
Medcare Sharjah Medical Center