The flu (influenza)

The flu is officially called “Influenza”. Flu is a respiratory infection caused by the influenza virus. There are different types of influenza viruses, which is why someone must have a flu shot every year. There are also many other viruses that cause flu-like illnesses. Not everything that someone calls the flu is actually the flu caused by the influenza virus.

What are the characteristics of the flu

Infection occurs through inhalation of coughed-up, infected droplets or through contact with other excreta from a patient. If it is the real flu virus (and not diseases that resemble flu), then:

  • 40 degrees fever or higher after a few days of infection
  • usually someone also suffers from chills.
  • headache
  • pain in the muscles
  • a sore throat
  • cough

The complaints resemble a bad cold and usually go away on their own after a few days, but it can sometimes take a number of weeks before someone feels completely fit again.
The flu is mainly prevalent in autumn to early spring. Flu epidemics occur almost every year.

Advice for flu

Flu is a harmless condition in healthy people that goes away on its own. Because it is a viral infection, antibiotics cannot be used to reduce the symptoms. Antibiotics only work on bacteria. What someone with the flu can do is:

  • drink enough > you also lose fluid due to the high fever.
  • take some rest, you don’t necessarily have to be in bed.
  • Use paracetamol to reduce muscle pain and headaches. Paracetamol also reduces the fever, which often makes someone feel a lot better.

Flu cannot be cured with medication. You can try to alleviate the complaints, such as using a throat candy for a sore throat, a cough syrup to reduce coughing symptoms and nasal drops for a blocked nose.

Complications of the flu

Complications can also arise. These are mainly if there is still a fever after five days, or if the fever returns after having just been fever-free, shortness of breath and coughing up a lot of mucus.
People who belong to the risk group, and who therefore have an increased risk of a complication, are:

  • very young and older people
  • diabetes patients
  • Asthma and COPD patients
  • people with reduced resistance due to, for example, chemotherapy for cancer
  • HIV patients
  • People with heart disease
  • chronic boils
  • kidney diseases
  • people who live in a nursing or care home.
  • mentally handicapped people living in a home
  • people aged 65 and over

with a bacteria can occur due to a complication . Fever then occurs for the second time during the illness period. In people with reduced resistance, this can lead to complications such as pneumonia. People with reduced immunity or other conditions may also be more affected by their own condition due to the flu.

Vaccination (the flu shot)

People in the risk group can become seriously ill from the flu and even die from it. People who belong to the risk group are therefore offered the flu shot every year. This flu shot prevents you from getting the flu. Sometimes flu occurs after a vaccination, but it will be much less severe if someone has not been vaccinated.
The flu shot must be repeated every year because other flu viruses are active every year. The vaccine is then adapted to the virus that is prevalent that year.
The flu shot is always given in October or November. It takes ten days for the body to produce antiviruses. Most flu epidemics occur in January and February.
The vaccination only helps against the real flu, not against diseases and conditions that resemble the flu, such as a bad cold.
When is vaccination not allowed?

  • For an allergy to chicken protein
  • People who are currently ill or recovering from an illness
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