What are the symptoms of flu?
After you have been exposed to the flu virus it can take 1 to 3 days or even up to 1 week for the symptoms of flu to appear.
The chances of contracting the flu increases if you have travelled to areas where there is a flu outbreak or if you have been in contact with someone who has the flu.
Influenza symptoms range from mild to serious. It is important to note that the flu virus can only be confirmed by your GP when a nose and/or throat swab or a blood test returns positive results.
Common flu symptoms include :
- The sudden appearance of a high fever (38 °C or more)
- A dry cough
- Body aches (especially in the head, lower back and legs)
- Feeling extremely weak and tired (and not wanting to get out of bed)
- Vomiting and diarrhoea (usually more common in children)
Other symptoms of the flu include:
- Body chills
- Aching behind your eyes
- A loss of appetite
- Sore throat
- A runny or stuffy nose.
It is important to note that the flu is a serious disease that can potentially lead to:
- Brain inflammation and brain damage
- Ear infections
- Heart and other organ damage
What is the treatment for flu?
If you believe that you or one of your family members has flu symptoms, it is very important to see your GP as soon as possible. Mild flu symptoms can be relieved by:
- Taking time off work, school or regular daily routines to rest
- Taking paracetamol to reduce fever and pain
- Using decongestant medicines
- Drinking plenty of fluids
Your GP may give you medication after you have been diagnosed. This can reduce the amount of time you feel ill. If influenza symptoms increase, you may need to seek medical treatment in hospital.
Who should not have flu immunisation?
If you have concerns about your suitability for a flu shot, it is important to talk to your GP. Generally flu immunisation is not suitable if:
- You have had a serious allergic reaction to a previous flu shot
- Infants are under 6 months of age
- You have had Guillain-Barre syndrome
- You are severely allergic to chicken products including eggs and feathers
If you are feeling unwell on the day of your flu shot, you may need to reschedule your flu shot.
Can the flu be prevented?
According to the Australian Government Department of Health, the best protection against flu is to have a flu shot.
If you contract the flu virus you can reduce the likelihood of the disease spreading to others in your family or community by:
- Covering your mouth with your elbow crook when you cough and/or sneeze
- Avoiding crowded places until you are feeling better
- If you start to feel ill stay away from work, school, childcare or other places where the infection may spread
- Wash your hands frequently and wipe frequently touched surfaces with a clean cloth or disinfectant wipes
- Get plenty of rest, eat a healthy diet and drink plenty of fluids.
What is the composition of the flu vaccine for Australia in 2018?
The World Health Organization (WHO) provides a guide to national public health and regulatory authorities and vaccine manufacturers for the development and production of influenza vaccines for the next influenza season. The formulation of flu vaccines for use in Australia is determined each year by the Australian Influenza Vaccine Committee (AIVC) taking into consideration the WHO guidelines.
In October 2017 the Australian Influenza Vaccine Committee (AVIC) reviewed and evaluated data related to the 2016-2017 flu vaccines. They recommended the “2018 Southern Hemisphere influenza vaccines the trivalent influenza vaccine components for the Australian 2018 influenza season should contain the following:
- A (H1N1): an A/Michigan/45/2015 (H1N1)pdm09-like virus
- A (H3N2): an A/Singapore/INFIM-16-0019/2016 (H3N2)-like virus
- B: a B/Phuket/3073/2013-like virus
- B: a B/Brisbane/60/2008-like virus.
Are there any possible side effects to having a flu shot?
All vaccines and vaccines can have side effects that range from mild to serious. Your GP will inform you about the possible side effects of flu shot.
Generally these are mild and usually occur within 24 to 48 hours after the flu shot has been administered. Common mild side effects of flu shot include:
- Pain at the injection site with possible swelling and redness
- Body aches, fever and/or tiredness
To manage fever or body aches after flu immunisation drink plenty of fluids. If you are going to take paracetamol it is very important that you check the label for the correct dose and speak with your pharmacist and/or GP if you are giving it to a child. If you or a family member have side effects from the flu shot that are concerning, it is vital that you contact your GP for advice.