You can catch flu – short for influenza – all year round, but it is especially common in winter. Flu causes a sudden high temperature, headache and general aches and pains, tiredness and a sore throat. You can also lose your appetite, feel nauseous and have a cough. Flu symptoms can make you feel so exhausted and unwell that you have to stay in bed and rest until you feel better.
If you are otherwise fit and healthy, there is usually no need to see a doctor if you have flu-like symptoms. The best remedy is to rest at home, keep warm and drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration. You can take paracetamol or ibuprofen to lower a high temperature and relieve aches.
The flu vaccine
A flu vaccine is available free on the NHS for:
- Pregnant women
- Children aged two and three
- Children aged 2 to 18 with a long-term health condition
- Adults aged 65 or older
- People with a serious medical condition
- Healthcare workers or carers
- People living in a residential or nursing home
Despite popular belief, the flu vaccine cannot give you flu as it doesn't contain the active virus needed to do this.
The flu vaccine is available from October each year. If you think you need it, talk to your GP or practice nurse.