Fend off colds and flu this winter

Autumn is upon us and soon the chills of winter will set in and be felt by all of us.

Winter brings dreary colds and flu, and many of you would like to know the difference between colds and influenza.

Symptoms of a cold and flu:

If you have a cold, you’ll probably experience symptoms such as a runny or stuffy nose, a sore throat, sneezing, a mild-to-moderate fever, cough, headache or body aches and mild tiredness.

Flu symptoms are very similar to cold symptoms but are much more severe, with a cough that is dry and painful, a moderate-to-high fever, sore throat, shaking chills, severe muscle or body aches, stuffy and runny nose, headache and tiredness.

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Flu viruses are spread from person to person through coughing or sneezing by infected persons. If patients cough or sneeze into their hands or close to any surface, the viruses can easily be spread to their hands or any hard surfaces they touch.

The virus can survive on a hard surface for some time. If healthy people touch a surface that has the flu virus, they can also be infected.

Everyone is at risk of being infected. The condition is generally mild, but those who should be particularly careful are those who are over the age of 65, infants, persons with chronic ailments such as asthma, diabetes, HIV/Aids, pregnant women, and patients who have chronic heart disease and lowered immune systems. People from these groups should seek medical advice if they display symptoms of the virus.

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What can one do to prevent being infected?

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water
  • Cover your nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing. Cough into your elbow rather than your hands
  • Used tissues should be thrown into bins immediately
  • Open windows at home, in taxis and at work. Let the air circulate
  • Avoid contact with sick people. If you have flu, rather stay at home
  • Do not sit in the waiting area of a clinic; inform the staff at the reception desk that you will be waiting outside
  • Being active and eating healthily reduces your chances of contracting colds and the flu virus.

Flu vaccines are available at your nearest facility and are given to high-risk groups such as immune-compromised people (HIV), elderly or chronic patients and pregnant women.

Do you have special remedies to help with flu and colds? Tweet @AlexNewsZA to share them with us.

Sipho Siso

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