Sick woman with flu, cold, fever and cough ordering home delivery of medication

by | Sep 22, 2022

Be prepared this cold and flu season

Thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, influenza rates in Australia have been incredibly low over the past two years. However, this year’s flu season has returned with a vengeance.

More people are catching the flu, and there is a higher rate of severe symptoms. Already in 2022, weekly influenza case numbers are exceeding the five year average.¹

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How to tell the difference between a cold and the flu?

Often when we start to feel sick it is difficult to know if we are just coming down with a cold or the flu. And it’s fair to be confused, as both are respiratory illnesses and can cause similar symptoms:

  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Fever and chills
  • Sore throat
  • Sneezing
  • Body aches
  • General fatigue

However, as a rule, flu symptoms are more severe than cold symptoms. In addition, they have the potential to cause further health problems (such as sinusitis or ear infections), which a cold rarely does.

If you want to confirm a cold or flu diagnosis, your doctor can run a test to determine the cause of your illness. In several Australian states, testing for influenza has also been added to COVID-19 PCR test. Influenza A is the dominant strain this year, as it has accounted for nearly 99% of influenza lab results.²

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What are the best ways to fight the flu?

Get a flu shot

The Department of Health recommends vaccination as the best protection against the flu. It is important to make sure you keep up to date with your flu shot every year, as it wears off after three to four months and flu strains change over time.

There are a number of groups that are eligible for free annual vaccines under the National Immunisation Program:

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
  • Children aged six months to five years
  • Pregnant women
  • People aged 65 years or over
  • Those with high-risk medical conditions.

However, if you do not fit within these groups, pharmacies offer the service at an average cost of $15, and it is common practice for employers to sponsor flu vaccinations.

Hygiene

Practising good hygiene is the most effective means of flu prevention, outside of vaccination. Remember to wash your hands regularly, cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing, and bin your tissues. By doing this you can help prevent contamination and spread of the illness.

Look out for your children

We went without the regular boost to immunity over the last two years because everyone was isolated inside. However, now we are seeing a sort of catch-up epidemic, especially for young children.

Not only is COVID-19 and flu active in the community, but there is also an unusual spike in respiratory syncytial virus or RSV. This is a respiratory virus that primarily affects babies and young children, typically presenting as flu-like symptoms, but can become quite severe. It is one of the most common reasons for children being admitted to hospital.

Being prepared and following preventative techniques is of the utmost importance for parents if they want to keep their children healthy and safe this winter.

Self-care

In most cases, you can treat mild flu at home. Medications like Panadol and Nurofen can help manage some symptoms, such as headaches and body aches/pains, and vitamin supplements, such as vitamin C, D, zinc or selenium, can help support your body in its recovery as well as boosting your immune system in general.

Antibiotics do not reduce symptoms of flu or a cold, as these illnesses are caused by viruses. However, if your flu develops into a more severe condition, such as pneumonia or bronchitis, you may be prescribed antibiotics by your doctor. You should always consult a healthcare professional for advice about this form of medication.

Time and rest are vitally important in helping your body fight the virus. That’s where Chemist2U can help, delivering straight from the chemist to you. We can provide all you need to recover faster and stronger from the flu this winter, and allow you to do so without you even leaving the couch. Download our app today to make sure you are prepared this flu season or ask a Pharmacist if you have a question about your cold or flu.

[1] Australian Influenza Surveillance Report https://www1.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/Content/cda-surveil-ozflu-flucurr.htm

[2] Australian Influenza Surveillance Report https://www1.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/Content/cda-surveil-ozflu-flucurr.htm

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