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What is influenza?

Commonly known as flu, influenza is an illness caused by RNA viruses that infect the respiratory tract. The mechanism of spread is usually by droplets or direct contact. The virus replicates in the respiratory tract and damages your host cells.
It is worth noting that the vast majority of people can fight this condition effectively. However, people who have a lower immune response, such as people who are pregnant, very young, cancer patients and those with existing lung conditions are more likely to suffer serious symptoms. These can be successfully prevented with the use of effective prescription medication when treating influenza.

Types of influenza (flu) virus

There are 2 different types of influenza viruses: A and B. Wild birds are a common carrier of Type A flu, whereas type B is only found in humans.

How does influenza spread?
Types A and B are responsible for the epidemics of respiratory illness that occur almost every winter, leading to outbreaks of illness and serious symptoms.

The flu can be transmitted in two ways: An infected person can directly pass the virus by sneezing directly in front of an uninfected person, or an uninfected person can touch a surface that has been contaminated by an infected person and then pass the virus to his or her own body.

What are the symptoms of influenza?

Unlike the common cold, influenza is caused by a group of viruses and symptoms normally start much more suddenly and tend to be more severe in nature and last longer.

Symptoms of influenza can include:

• Fever
• Sweats/chills,
• Tiredness/weakness
• Headaches
• Loss of appetite
• Indigestion
• Aches and pains
• Dry and chesty cough
• Diarrhoea

How can I help prevent influenza?

You should:

• Wash your hands regularly with water and soap, particularly before touching your mouth or eating regularly
• Clean surfaces which accumulate germs such as door handles and computer keyboards
• Sneeze or cough into tissues
• Don’t leave tissues lying around, but instead put them into the bin as soon as possible

The most effective way to prevent flu is by getting the flu jab. This is a vaccination that changes annually, so you will need to get a new one every year to remain protected. If you are over 65, pregnant or have a chronic condition such as diabetes or heart disease, or a weakened immune system, you will probably be able to get the flu jab free at your GP surgery.

There are several things you can do to ease the pain and discomfort.

You can:

• Take paracetamol or ibuprofen to lower your fever or for muscle aches
• Take a cough syrup if you have a cough
• Take a decongestant if you have a blocked nose. Limit the use to a week at a time because prolonged use can worsen the stuffiness
• Have lots of rest
• Drink plenty of fluids

How is influenza treated?

You do not usually need to treat flu with medicines, as your body will normally recover on its own. However, in certain appropriate circumstances prescription antiviral medicines like Tamiflu and Relenza can be used following an assessment with one of our doctors.

How do antiviral medicines work?
Tamiflu and Relenza work by inhibiting neuraminidase, an enzyme the flu virus needs to spread through your body. The virus is therefore contained in a smaller area of your body, and this makes the symptoms less severe and shortens the length of time you are ill.

Tamiflu is available through AccessDoctor.

Start by completing our simple online health consultation form for one of our UK based doctors to review.

Once approved, our pharmacy team will prepare and post your treatment to you with our free next day delivery