It’s that time of the year, when the weather is starting to get chilly and wet and we are more prone to coming down with the cold and flu. Here’s a quick run down about colds and flu's and what you can do to reduce your chances of catching them.
Colds are more common
Colds are caused by about 200 different viruses and are very common. Adults may get 2 – 4 colds a year while children may get 5 – 10 colds a year. There is no vaccine for the common cold.
When we get a cold, our nose, throat and upper airways are affected. Common symptoms include:
- A blocked or runny nose, sneezing
- General congestion or our heads feeling blocked and stuffy
- Watery eyes
- Sore throat
The flu is a serious disease
Influenza (or the flu) is also caused by viruses that affect our nose, throat and sometimes lungs. The flu is a serious and highly contagious disease which is usually prevented by getting a vaccination and managing the symptoms.
Common symptoms include:
- Fever (temperature over 38 degrees Celsius), shivering and chills
- Blocked or runny nose
- Sore throat
- Trouble breathing
- Muscle aches and pains
- Vomiting and diarrhoea (more common in children)
There are three different types of influenza viruses that infect people — types A, B and C:
1. Type A flu viruses are the most serious virus capable of infecting people and animals. Type A viruses are typically responsible for the major outbreaks. Wild birds are commonly the host for this virus.
2. Type B flu viruses are only found in people. Type B flu may be less serious than type A but can still be very harmful.
3. Type C flu viruses are only found in people and are not as serious as type A or B. People generally do not become very sick from these viruses.
Who is at risk of getting the flu
The flu can affect anyone but is especially serious for ‘at risk’ people like:
- Elderly people - more than 65 years old
- Pregnant women
- People with chronic illnesses like asthma, diabetes, heart disease and blood disease
- People who have weakened immune systems, e.g. already sick and recovering from an illness.
Preventing the flu from spreading
The flu is spread when a person comes into direct contact with body fluid from an infected person. This can happen when an infected person coughs or sneezes and you breathe in the droplets or touch the droplets. It can also spread when you touch a contaminated surface with the flu virus on it, e.g. touch a door handle, drink from a shared glass, and then touch your mouth, eyes or nose.
If you have the flu, you could pass on the infection and should avoid contact with other people. Good hygiene is one of the most important ways to help prevent colds and flu.
You can help prevent the flu spreading by:
1. Covering your mouth and nose when you sneeze or cough and turning away from other people. Use disposable tissues and always throw the used tissue into the nearest bin. If you put in it your pocket or handbag, you could be storing the virus.
2. Wash your hands regularly, including every time you sneeze, cough or blow your nose – this is the single most effective way of killing the flu virus.
3. Don’t share personal items like eating and drinking utensils, foods or drinks, toothbrushes, towels, pillows and bedding.
4. Regularly clean surfaces that are used often like tables and fridge doors, as the flu viruses can live on surfaces for a few hours.
5. Avoid close contact with others. Avoid going out in public when you are sick, and if you do need to go out, keep at least a metre away from other people.
Protection against the flu
Experts advise that vaccination is the best protection against the flu.
A vaccine is available for the flu. However, as there are many different strains of flu and they constantly change, immunity from the vaccine doesn't last a long time. That's why you need a to get vaccinated each year to help you stay protected against the flu.
The flu vaccination is free for all Australians aged 65 years and over, and all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples aged 50 years and over or aged 15 to 49 years with specific risk factors.
Healthy winter warmer recipes to help boost your health
Inspiro has experienced dietitians
It’s important to keep up with healthy eating habits in winter by eating nutritious food to boost our immune system. Try some of our healthy and delicious winter warmer recipes approved by our dietitians.
• Dom’s chicken noodle soup
• Hearty tomato and vegetable soup
• Baked Spanish eggs
• Mexican inspired savoury tarts
• Salmon and sweet potato patties
• Sin free lasagne
Did you know Inspiro offers Community Health Nursing services?
Our Community Health Nurses help connect you to the health services that you need and coordinate your care program. Services include:
• A free sexual health clinic
• A one on one service to support people to stop smoking
• A Diabetes Annual Cycle of Care Clinic - for people with Type 2 diabetes