This site is intended for health professionals only
Wednesday 26 October 2016 Instagram
Share |

Top ten flu myths

Top ten flu myths

Public Health England: Ten myths about flu
Ten common myths about flu have been debunked by Public Health England's top expert, especially for Nursing in Practice.
Surprise and educate your patients with these tips, and who knows - you may learn something yourself! 
1. "Going out in the cold weather increases your chances of catching the flu"
You can catch flu all year round, but it is especially common during the winter months. This is because transmission and survival of the flu virus is enhanced by low humidity which is a feature of the colder temperatures we experience over the winter. Flu is spread when someone who is infected coughs or sneezes and spreads droplets contaminated with the flu virus.
Anyone else who breathes in the droplets, or touches a surface on which they have landed and then touches their nose or mouth, can catch flu. Whatever the time of year, it’s important to wash your hands frequently to prevent catching flu.
2. "If you're healthy you don't need the vaccine"
Regardless of your state of your health, if you fall into one of the following groups you should get the flu vaccine:
 - People 65 years of age or older.
 - Pregnant women.
 - Those with a long term health condition, i.e. diabetes, those with a weakened immune system (e.g. HIV or cancer patients), heart disease, chronic respiratory disease (e.g. severe asthma, COPD, bronchitis), kidney disease, liver disease, chronic neurological diseases such as Parkinson’s and people in long stay residential homes.
 - Health and social care workers, to reduce the likelihood of passing flu onto their patients.
 - Carers who are in receipt of a carer’s allowance, or those who are the main carer of an older or disabled person whose welfare may be at risk if the carer falls ill. By getting the flu jab, carers also reduce the chance of them transmitting flu to the person they care for.
3. "Flu is just like a bad cold"
Flu can be very debilitating for several days and can cause more serious illness than the common cold, which is caused by other respiratory viruses, such as rhinovirus.
The most common symptoms of influenza are a sudden onset of fever, shivering, headache, muscle aches and cough.
Cold symptoms tend to be limited to the upper respiratory tract, with runny nose, sneezing, watery eyes and throat irritation.
4. "Flu cannot be treated"
Most influenza-like illnesses are self-limiting and the treatment is to rest, drink plenty of fluids and take analgesics (paracetamol for all ages, aspirin may be taken by adults). It is best to treat the infection at home until the person is well enough to return to normal activities in order to reduce the possibility of spreading the virus further.
Antivirals such as oseltamivir and zanamivir can lessen the symptoms of flu and shorten its duration.
Medical advice should always be sought if symptoms become severe or last more than about a week. Those with chronic or long-standing illness may need medical attention earlier.
5. "Antibiotics will help if you get flu"
Antibiotics can’t help, because flu is caused by a virus, not a bacteria
6. "The flu vaccine gives you flu"
No.  The vaccine viruses are inactivated (killed), or attenuated (weakened) in such a way that they cannot cause flu.
7. "Children can't have the flu jab"
Children over the age of six months with one of the long term health condition listed above should have a flu vaccination, unless there is a valid reason not to give it.
From September 2013, all children aged two and three years were offered protection against flu, using a nasal spray vaccine. This marked the first step in an extension to the national flu vaccination programme, which will eventually include yearly vaccination of all healthy children aged 2 to 16 years.
8. "If you get flu over the winter, you're unlikely to get it again that year"
The flu virus is constantly changing with new strains and variants emerging all the time. Unfortunately, the immunity you get from being infected tends to wane over time.
9. "If you had the flu jab last year, you don't need it again"
No; the flu virus is constantly changing so that different strains may be present from year to year. In addition, the immunity to flu from the flu jab usually only lasts for one season.
10. "Flu isn’t romantic" 
While the symptoms of flu aren’t very pleasant, the word ‘influenza’ comes from the Italian for influence, which in turn came from the Latin influentia or influence of the stars.
Although should you find yourself laid up with sudden high temperature, headache and sore throat, it’s unlikely you’ll feel much like contemplating the wonder of the celestial ballet.

Ads by Google

You are leaving

You are currently leaving the Nursing in Practice site. Are you sure you want to proceed?