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Diagnosis for seasonal flu is made from the symptoms, as the symptoms of flu are very similar to many other viral infections. In some circumstances, your doctor may send a throat swab or blood to the laboratory to test for the flu virus.
Most people with seasonal flu can be treated with paracetamol. Paracetamol-based cold remedies can also be used to ease some of the flu symptoms and reduce the temperature.
It is vital to ensure that anyone who gets seasonal flu should get plenty of rest, drinking lots of fluids, and isolate themselves to prevent spreading flu to someone else especially from those in the high risk group. Those who are in the high risk group should visit your GP if you have flu symptoms or if the symptoms are getting worse.
Seasonal flu is caused by viruses and is therefore are not treated by antibiotics, as these are used to treat bacterial infections. However, antibiotics can be prescribed for some of the complications arising from flu such as chest infections or pneumonia.
Some people with seasonal flu can be treated with special medication called antiviral drugs. They reduce the length of symptoms and their severity.
Prevention and protection
People with chronic illness should consider being vaccinated each year. The seasonal flu vaccination (flu jab) varies due to the flu virus changes each year.
There are certain practices which can help reduce the spread of all viruses, including seasonal flu. These include:
- Covering your nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing
- Using a tissue and throwing away dirty tissues promptly and carefully. CATCH IT, BIN IT, KILL IT (DH Campaign)
- Maintaining good hand hygiene by washing hands frequently with soap and water and use of alcohol gels to reduce the spread of the virus from your hands to your face or to other people
- Teach and encourage children to wash their hands thoroughly
- Clean hard surfaces (e.g. door handles) frequently using household cleaning products.
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- Catch it, Bin it, Kill it.
- DH information leaflet http://www.direct.gov.uk/prod_consum_dg/groups/dg_digitalassets/@dg/@en/documents/digitalasset/dg_178687.pdf
- NHS Choices website
- NHS Scotland, NHS wales, DHSSPS,NHS (2009)
- Seasonal flu. Why you should have the vaccination http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Flu-jab/documents/Seasonal%20Flu%20Vaccination%20leaflet.pdf