It’s that time of year again when colds and flus are making the rounds. After dealing with COVID for the last 18+ months, we are all more conscious than ever about the importance of hand hygiene, building our natural immunity, and protecting ourselves and others from illness. Luckily, many of the good habits we’ve formed as a result of the pandemic will also protect us from colds, flus and other viruses this winter.

Seasonal flu (also known as influenza) is a highly infectious illness caused by the flu virus.

The HSE describes it as a virus infects your lungs and upper airways, causing a sudden high temperature and general aches and pains, headache, weakness and exhaustion. Symptoms can last for up to one week. You may need to stay in bed until your symptoms get better. Flu affects people of all ages. In some people flu can cause serious complications such as pneumonia.

The Health Service Executive has lots of great information on common illnesses, and what to do if you are unlucky enough to be struck down with one! The following information is from the HSE website – read the full article here.

The difference between a cold and the flu

Flu symptoms come on suddenly with a fever, muscle aches, headache and fatigue. A cold usually starts gradually with a sore throat and a blocked or a runny nose. Symptoms of a cold are generally mild compared to flu.

If you are carrying the virus, you can spread it by coughing or sneezing. This can happen from 1-2 days before symptoms develop and up to 5 days after symptoms develop.

Flu can survive on worktops and objects, especially in low temperatures and low humidity. You can get flu by touching a surface with the virus on it and then touching your mouth, eyes or nose. The virus can live on a hard surface for up to 24 hours and a soft surface for around 20 minutes.

Getting a Flu Vaccine

The seasonal flu vaccine (flu jab) protects against 4 strains of flu virus. These are the strains most likely to be circulating this flu season.

You can get the vaccine from your GP, pharmacist or an occupational health department or peer vaccinator if you work in healthcare.

The vaccine is highly recommended for people in certain high-risk groups such as those aged 65 or older, or pregnant women.

Click here to find out more about the Flu Vaccine on the HSE website.