Tuesday, May 15, 2007

When is a Flu not a Flu?

A Flu is not a Flu when it is just a Cold.

Lately there seem to be an increase in patients coming into the clinic complaining of "Flu". But what the layperson calls "Flu" and what the Doctor considers "Flu" is quite different.

When the Doctor says you have got a "Flu", we mean that you have a condition known as Influenza. Influenza is a condition that is caused by the Influenza virus. There are lots of viruses and bacteria that cause people to have fevers and runny noses. So how does the Doctor know if the condition you have is Influenza or just a normal cold?

The truth of the matter is that the Doctor cannot be 100% sure. But we can look at the signs and symptoms and make a "best guess". The only way to confirm that you have the Influenza virus is to do a lab test.

However you can tell the difference between a "Flu" and a "Cold" by noting the different characteristics:

We all get cough and colds round the year. But occasionally, you get a bout that is so bad you feel as if you have been sat on by a Sumo Wrestler. Your bones and joints are all aching and your fever rises faster than the housing prices. When you feel like this, you might well be suffering a real "Flu".

If you are having a "Flu", you will be infectious to others a day before the onset of the symptoms and throughout the period when you are suffering from the illness. You might also feel very lethargic for up to 10 days. The Influenza virus spreads through droplets. So everytime you sneeze and cough you are helping to spread the virus around.

What you can do:
  • Visit your Doctor and make sure you get an accurate diagnosis. It could be other things like bacterial pharyngitis which can be treated with antibiotics.
  • Make sure you isolate yourself from other people so you don't spread the virus.
  • Take lots of fluids and rest in bed as much as you can.
  • There is a new medication called Tamiflu which may be prescribed depending on the patients' needs.
  • Avoid getting the flu by vaccination. This vaccination is currently recommended for young children with chronic diseases like asthma, the elderly, pregnant mothers or if you are going to be in a situation where there is a high chance that you get the Flu.
More information on the Flu can be found by clicking here


Anonymous said...

Where sports is concerned, is it advisable to abstain from physical exertion ONLY in the case of flu, or when I'm suffering from a cold as well? Thanks.

Dr Leslie said...

It is always advisable to rest when you are unwell

Anonymous said...

I believe the hot and humid climate, rainy days, crowded places will worsen the spread of contagious illnesses. It's best to stay home and rest. Is using aircon better for someone who is ill?

Dr Leslie said...

Common question, both air con and no air con have their advantages. Sleeping without aircon allows for natural air circulation which is good, but if it is too hot and humid, it would be more comfortable in air con

Anonymous said...

Hi, Can I ask if you offer the flu vaccine at your clinic?