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Thu 2 Aug 2001 In: Living Well View at Wayback View at NDHA

Influenza makes you feel awful. It can lead to serious illness such as pneumonia, hospitalisation or even death in older people and those with long term medical problems. Influenza is different from a cold or a cough. The symptoms include high fever and aching muscles and joints. You can also have a cough, sore throat and runny nose. The viruses that cause influenza are always around us. They constantly change, so having had the flu before doesn't stop us getting it again. The viruses are very infectious and are spread from person to person by the fine spray which is shot from the nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze. Protect yourself and those you care about from influenza. Survival tactics Don't muck around – get to your doctor If you think you might be getting the flu, go straight to the doctor. He or she may suggest treatment with a new type of medicine which can reduce the amount of time you are unwell and minimise complications, but you will need to act fast. Remember the tell-tale signs of the flu are aching joints and muscles and fever. This medicine is not yet subsidised by the government and there will be a charge. Caring for yourself (or another) Rest at home until you feel better and the fever goes. This allows your body to heal itself and stops you giving the virus to someone else. Drink at least eight glasses of fluid (water, diluted fruit juice or cordial, iceblocks) a day.This is very important when you are sweating and feverish. Avoid tea, coffee or alcohol: they dry you out even more. Fresh lemon juice mixed with honey, some hot water and a little olive oil, well shaken then sipped, can soothe a sore throat or dry cough. Eat light food, only when hungry. Take medicine for fever and pain. Do not give children aspirin. Ask your chemist for children's paracetamol. Follow instructions on the bottle carefully. Remember that influenza can be dangerous – see your doctor if you haven't improved after four days, are elderly or have other long term health problems. Immunisation Immunisation against influenza is now available. Immunisation can protect you from influenza and from illness due to influenza. Immunisation is free for New Zealanders aged over 65 and people under 65 who have the following conditions: ¤Heart disease ¤Stroke and related diseases ¤Long-term respiratory diseases such as chronic bronchitis and asthma needing preventative medicine ¤Diabetes ¤On going kidney disease ¤Most cancers ¤Auto-immune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, organ transplants and HIV/AIDs Immunisation should be done between February and May, before the influenza season. Other New Zealanders may also benefit from immunisation, especially if you work in an essential service such as a cruise club, nightclub, bar, hospital or school. To find out more about influenza vaccine contact the Immunisation Advisory Centre 0800 Immune (466 863) or visit their website (link below). Immunisation is carried out by your family doctor. Phone for an appointment now. - 2nd August 2001    


First published: Thursday, 2nd August 2001 - 7:08pm

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