With a recent rise in the number of recorded cases, Public Health Wales are reminding people affected by the flu to think carefully before seeking further medical assistance.
To ensure busy emergency services are able to save lives and help those most in need, it is important to remember the vast majority of healthy people with symptoms of flu don’t need to see their GP.
Dr Bruce McKenzie, Consultant in Public Health Medicine at Cwm Taf University Health Board said: “Prevention is always better than cure, and those at risk still have time to avoid flu by getting vaccinated.
“Remember, vaccination doesn’t only help protect you, but also those around you. If you get flu-like symptoms and are usually healthy, follow self-help advice in the first instance.
“If you have a health condition that puts you at risk from flu, discuss your symptoms by telephone first, for advice on what to do next.”
Flu is a viral infection for which antibiotics are not helpful – instead, the advice is to drink plenty of fluids, take ibuprofen or paracetamol and avoid contact with vulnerable individuals while they have symptoms, which usually resolve in about a week.
Dr Giri Shankar, Professional Lead Consultant for Health Protection at Public Health Wales, said: “People are reminded that while flu is circulating in Wales and looks set to increase over the coming weeks, the types of flu being seen are as expected and are not more dangerous than those seen in previous years.
“People in at-risk groups with flu-like symptoms, such as those over the age of 65, pregnant women or those with a pre-existing medical condition, should phone their GP surgery or NHS Direct Wales (0845 46 47) for advice as soon as the symptoms start as anti-viral medication may be recommended.
“However, they should not attend their surgery without calling first to help reduce the risk of spreading infection to others.”
To help reduce the chances of flu spreading, people should:
- Catch it: always cough or sneeze into a tissue
- Bin it: dispose of the tissue after use
- Kill it: then wash your hands or use hand sanitizer to kill any flu viruses
If you believe you may have flu symptoms then it is advised to stay home from work, school and other public places for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone to avoid infecting other people. Most people feel better within a week of becoming infected with the flu virus, although coughing may last for another one or two weeks.
People who are concerned that their symptoms are worsening should call their GP or NHS Direct Wales for advice and should not go to A&E unless advised to do so.
Flu vaccination is available every year to people in at-risk groups – including those aged 65 and over, people with certain long-term health conditions, pregnant women, frontline healthcare workers, carers and young children. Anyone who has missed out on vaccination this year should call their GP surgery for advice.
More information on flu is available at www.beatflu.org
Further advice is available from the NHS Direct Wales website at www.nhsdirect.wales.nhs.uk or the helpline on 0845 46 47.