Influenza, or the flu, is a respiratory infection caused by a virus. It spreads easily through droplets, and may lead to serious complications if left untreated.
Vaccination is one of the steps to fight the flu. Read on to learn more.
Influenza, or the flu, is an infection caused by a virus that spreads easily through droplets.
When an infected person coughs or sneezes without covering their mouth and nose, these droplets are released into the air. Others who breathe in these droplets may become infected with the virus. The flu virus can also spread indirectly when a person touches a contaminated surface like a doorknob, and then touches his nose or mouth.
Signs and symptoms
Influenza symptoms are usually more severe compared to the common cold and they include:
- sore throat
- body aches
- a stuffy nose
A severe case of influenza, if left untreated, could lead to serious complications such as pneumonia, bronchitis, sinusitis, ear infection and meningitis (inflammation of the lining that covers the brain).
Your hands may frequently come in contact with contaminated surfaces which have been exposed to germs. It is important to wash them regularly and thoroughly with soap to maintain good hand hygiene. If soap and water are unavailable, an alcohol-based sanitiser is a good alternative.
- before and after meals
- before handling food
- after using the toilet
- after blowing your nose
- after touching shared surfaces like tabletops, doorknobs, handrails, etc.
The flu vaccination is strongly recommended for:
- The elderly and their caregivers
- Very young children, aged 6 months to 5 years
- People with low immunity (e.g. on cancer treatment) or chronic diseases such as diabetes
Pregnant women, healthcare workers and travellers will also benefit from the flu vaccine.
Unless contraindicated or advised otherwise, it is also recommended to go for flu vaccination to protect yourself from the various flu viruses. If you are travelling, it is recommended that you vaccinate 2 weeks before leaving the country.
The flu vaccination is easily available at all polyclinics and most private clinics. Ask you doctor for more information.
Go to the doctor early
If you are experiencing flu-like symptoms, seek treatment early, and wear a mask until you have recovered.
Stay at home
If you are unwell, rest at home. Avoid school, work, hospital visits and crowded places to prevent the spread of the virus to others. Take a breather from strenuous physical activities like running and jogging.
Use a tissue and a mask
Remember to use a mask, and cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. This prevents the release of respiratory droplets into the air, protecting your loved ones close to you. Dispose of the used tissues into a covered dustbin and wash your hands after doing so.
Read more about Influenza and how to protect yourself here.