Flu is a highly infectious and very common viral illness that is spread by coughs and sneezes. It is not the same as the common cold. Flu is caused by a different group of viruses and symptoms tend to be more severe and last longer. You can catch flu all year round, but it is especially common in winter, which is why it is also known as ‘seasonal flu’.
Flu causes a sudden high temperature, headache and general aches and pains, tiredness and a sore throat. You can also lose your appetite, feel nauseous and have a cough. If you have flu you generally start to feel ill within a few days of being infected. Symptoms peak after two to three days and you should begin to feel much better after a week or so, although you may feel tired for much longer.
A flu vaccine is available free on the NHS if you:
- are 65 years of age or over
- are pregnant
- have certain medical conditions
- are very overweight
- are living in a long-stay residential care home or other long-stay care facility
- receive a carer’s allowance, or you are the main carer for an elderly or disabled person whose welfare may be at risk if you fall ill
- are a healthcare worker with direct patient contact, or a social care worker
The best way to protect yourselves and others from flu is to get vaccinated. Speak to your GP if you fall in to one of the categories above.