What is 'Flu'?

'Flu' is frequently used by laypersons to refer to the common cold. Medically though, the term 'flu' is short for Influenza, which is a viral infection that can be much more severe than the common cold. Symptoms of Influenza can include runny nose, cough , sore throat, but the hallmark is the unrelenting high temperatures that come along with it, with severe body aches and intense fatigue. It is very contagious, often spreading through the air (from coughing/ sneezing) in a household and affecting multiple members of the family. It can be worse in the extremes of ages ( very young and old), and can lead to serious consequences in patients with chronic illness or low immunity. The main concern is the secondary pneumonia that can occur, and can potentially be fatal.

How can you tell if you have flu?

Often common cold viruses are self limiting and patients recover in a few days. One of the symptoms suggestive of influenza is the high temperatures that persist despite giving medication for fever. During your consultation, the doctor will examine for signs of bacterial infections or any complications like wheezing or lung infections. A bedside test for influenza can be performed in the clinic.

What does the influenza test involve?

The bedside Influenza test involves a simple nasal swab. A small cotton bud is inserted up the nostril and a sample of the nasal secretion is taken. The test is done immediately in our clinic and result is available within 15 minutes.

Is it painful?

It may be uncomfortable for some very briefly, and may make you sneeze and your eyes water.

Why do you need to do the test?

If we can identify the influenza infection early, there is specific anti-viral medication available which will help in the recovery of the patient. The medication works best if taken within 72 hours. Confirmation of the diagnosis also helps to avoid unnecessary usage of antibiotics (which will not help in recovery from a viral infection)

Is there anything I can do to prevent influenza?

Once a family member has the infection, it is advisable to keep them indoors, allow them to rest and take the medication. Using a face mask (N95) can limit the spread of the respiratory secretions into the surrounding air.

A yearly FLU VACCINE is also advised to improve your immunity to the virus strains.

The new southern hemisphere flu vaccine is available at the clinic. Make an appointment for your

immunisation with the doctor.