Picture this: You're bundled up in your cosiest blanket, surrounded by tissues and cough drops, and feeling like you've been hit by a truck. Worst, your children and partner are at home with you feeling sick as well.
Being bitten by the flu bug (specifically influenza) can cause quite a bit of misery for you and your family. With reports of a spike in influenza cases over the past few months and cooler weather in Singapore, the likelihood of catching the flu is increased. Hence, it is important to take the necessary steps to protect yourself and your loved ones.
In this article, we'll dive into the common types of influenza (flu) virus, its symptoms, and what you can do to treat and protect your family from the illness.
Types of influenza virus
There are four types of influenza virus, categorized as influenza A, B, C and D. Influenza A and B are the more common types due to their contagious nature, and are responsible for causing seasonal flu epidemics.
Influenza A: It can infect humans and animals. It is the only type that can cause a pandemic, which is a global spread of disease. Bird flu and swine flu pandemics both resulted from influenza A viruses. This includes previously dangerous subtypes such as H1N1 H2N2 etc.
Influenza B: Typically only affects humans (Named after geographical lineages, eg. Yamagata, Victoria)
While many people recover from the influenza with home remedies, it is important to note it can cause serious illness and death in people with a high risk of complications.
Symptoms Common symptoms of the flu include:
vomiting or diarrhea, which are more common in children
Some people experience severe symptoms, which can include:
shortness of breath
a high fever
loss of consciousness
A person who experiences any severe symptoms should receive medical attention as it can lead to complications. This includes pneumonia (infection of the lungs), bronchitis (inflammation of the lungs), sinusitis (infection of the nasal passages), ear infection and meningitis (inflammation of the lining that covers the brain). Note that some groups of people are at high risk of developing complications from flu:
Persons aged 65 years and older;
Children who are 6 months to under 5 years old;
Adults and children who have chronic disorders of the lungs (including asthma) or heart;
Adults and children who suffer from chronic metabolic diseases (including diabetes); people with kidney malfunction like those on dialysis; those with a blood disorder like thalassemia;
People whose immune resistance is lowered due to medications or those whose immune system is weakened due to the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) infection;
Children and teenagers aged 6 months to 18 years who are receiving long-term aspirin therapy (they are at risk of Reye syndrome, which is a deadly disease that affects all body organs, especially the liver and brain, after influenza infection);
Women who are in the second or third trimester of pregnancy.
As we are still living with COVID-19 where the symptoms are similar to flu, you can head down to clinics that offer Influenza Rapid Test kits to determine if you have either virus.
Treatment and Self-care You can receive a prescription for medication by visiting your doctor. One such medication used to treat flu symptoms is Oseltamivir (one of the more common brand names being Tamiflu). Oseltamivir is an anti-viral drug It works by attacking the flu virus to keep it from multiplying in your body and hence reduce the symptoms of flu.
Studies show that it helps to reduce your symptom duration by 2 days if taken within the first 48 hours. Typical influenza symptoms last for 5-7 days. It takes time and rest to recover from flu as well, so self-care is important. Stay hydrated and avoid strenuous physical activities.
Protection Receiving an influenza vaccination every year is the best method of prevention. Not only does it prevent flu, it can also help to reduce the risk of severe illness/complications/hospitalizations in babies, children and adults. It can be administered as early as 6 months of age onwards. If you experience flu symptoms or wish to receive vaccination, head down to any Intemedical clinics: Kovan Clinic Address: 210 Hougang Street 21, #01-233, Singapore 530210 Landline: 3165 9251 Whatsapp (message only): 8879 9404
Potong Pasir Clinic Address: 51 Upper Serangoon Rd, #01-29 The Poiz Centre, Singapore 347697 Landline: 6242 6384 WhatsApp (message only): 8879 9404
Teck Ghee Clinic Address: 338 Ang Mo Kio Ave 1 #01-1625 Singapore 560338 Landline: 6904 9579 WhatsApp (message only): 8879 9404
Tampines Clinic Address: 201E Tampines Street 23 #01-96 Singapore 527201 Landline: 6223 3803 WhatsApp (message only): 8065 0191
All clinics are open from 8 am to 12 pm.