A Happy new year from E4H to all our clients and partners.

2017 has started with a flu epidemic which has been blamed for the present trolley crisis in our main hospitals. Getting the flu is not unusual. In fact, its hard to avoid being exposed to it if you’re out and about.

Some simple tips worth remembering include:

The Flu virus is more significant for people with pre-existing medical conditions especially those with pre-existing respiratory ailments such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, asthma and cystic fibrosis as three notable examples. No doubt if you are in these groups, you have already been discussing with your doctor simple steps to protect your lung health.

For most of us this flu is mediated by a viral infection and is self-limiting. Antibiotics will not work against the virus and unless we are dealing with something more complicated the ideal approach to treatment is bed-rest and symptomatic management of things like temperature, chills and aches and pains. Drinking plenty of fluids and staying warm allows our bodies to clear the virus and help us recover. Over the counter treatments used appropriately such as paracetamol and ibuprofen are helpful in managing symptoms especially temperature.
Ask your pharmacist for advice on what over the counter medicines may be useful. Cough bottles and Linctus syrups can provide relief for coughing. Children who may be prone to high temperatures should be managed symptomatically. This means using a reliable thermometer and dosing children appropriately with over the counter medication as recommended by your healthcare professional.

Please remember that medicines, even those available over the counter, can have side effects. Always obey the dosing guidelines and pay particular attention to advice from your pharmacist or doctor on the appropriate use of home medication. Ensure if you are using more than one type of medicine to treat flu symptoms that it is safe to do so. Drug-drug interactions are rare, however do not medicate children in the absence of expert advice and guidance from a healthcare professional.

If you feel you must attend the emergency department for flu symptoms remember this is for people with significant illness where hospitals are the appropriate setting of care. However if your flu is much like a normal flu, waiting in an emergency department for hours, even days, doesn’t sound like a good idea. Better to try to manage the flu at home. The majority of us will recover within 3-4 days. Hospital resources should be protected for those at special risk and who once infected become particularly ill.

One other reason to stay out of Hospital at present relates to the appearance of the winter vomiting bug. Hospitals, even the cleanest are a easy places to pick up new infections. So make a hospital visit your option of last resort and instead visit your GP or pharmacy and seek some professional advice on simple steps you can take to help you get over this flu season.

As soon as this flu season is over, make preparations to ask your doctor how to protect yourself and your family next year. People with long term health conditions need to consider appropriate steps to protect themselves from the flu. A flu vaccination jab is a good idea before the flu season starts. Your GP and Pharmacist can advise you on simple steps towards prevention.

We all get sick some time. The most important thing is to educate ourselves as to how to minimise our risks of infection and when we do succumb, to remember for most of us, a viral flu is self-limiting and if we give our bodies a chance, will be gone in a few days.

Here’s hoping that you can avoid this winter’s flu. Remember if you do get sick, plenty of rest, fluids and symptom management will have you back on your feet within a few days.