Everyone has heard of the flu, and if you’ve ever had it, you know it can feel absolutely horrific.

Each year, around 8,000 people die from flu, particularly older adults, small children and those living with underlying health conditions. At the end of 2019, more than 2,000 Britons were hospitalised because of the virus.

However, there’s no need to be scared as cold and flu prevention isn’t too difficult. To ensure you’re taking care this winter, below, we discuss what the virus is, how it’s spread and what you can do to prevent getting it.

What is the flu?

A viral infection of the respiratory tract, those with the flu will usually experience several different symptoms, ranging from headaches to fatigue and aching muscles. The symptoms tend to take hold quite quickly, with a full list including:

• Fever of 38C and above
• Dry cough
• Fatigue
• Aches
• Headache
• Difficulty sleeping
• Stomach pain
• Diarrhoea
• Loss of appetite
• Runny nose
• Stuffy nose
• Children also have similar symptoms but can experience ear pain and appear less active than usual

The flu is highly infectious and spreads quite quickly, and can even be passed on by those experiencing little to no symptoms. But how does the virus spread from person to person?

How the flu spreads

When it comes to the spread of the virus, most experts believe it happens primarily from the spread of small droplets made when people with the flu cough, sneeze or talk. These droplets make their way into the noses and mouths of those nearby, which is then inhaled into the lungs before spreading.

It’s thought that the flu can actually be spread to others who are up to six feet away.

While this is the most common way for the flu to be spread, it can also be spread via touch. This happens when a person touches a surface or object that has the flu virus on it, which can live up to 24-hours or longer when on metal or plastic surfaces, before touching their mouth, nose or eyes.

How to keep the flu at bay

Despite the flu being easy to spread, and dangerous for some in society, there are several ways that you can keep the virus at bay, which we’ve outlined below.

Wash your hands

One of the easiest ways to try and prevent the spread of flu is to wash your hands as much as possible, especially after touching someone else’s hand.

Don’t touch your face

With your nose, eyes and mouth being the most common areas for germs to enter your body, touching your face is one of the main ways the flu virus can get you. Biting your nails is another way this can happen as germs live here.

Use hand sanitiser

Of course, sometimes you won’t have a sink and soap close by, and you can’t go through the day without touching anything That’s why having hand sanitiser gel or foam with you at all times is a sure-fire way to help kill germs while you’re out and about. Look for alcohol-based sanitisers as these are far more efficient.

Flu jab

Make sure you get the flu jab, especially if you’re entitled to it, as this works to keep you protected from the virus. The flu vaccination is being offered to:

• Those aged 65 years and over
• Those aged 6 months to under 65 years in clinical risk groups
• Pregnant women
• Those living in a residential or nursing home
• The primary carer of an older or disabled person
• Children aged two-three (on 31 August 2019) and all primary school-aged children

Sharing food

Be wary when it comes to sharing food and drinks, especially with office parties and gatherings being popular this time of year. Double dippers and all those hands touching food are rife for the spread of germs, so be careful.

While these will help you to stay as safe as possible in the face of the flu, you may still get it. If you do, remember to keep well rested and stay warm, ensuring you sleep lots and drink lots of fluids alongside taking paracetamol and ibuprofen.

If you need any help or advice when it comes to products used to prevent the spread of the cold and flu virus, get in touch. You can do this by calling 01204 895410 between 9 am and 5 pm Monday – Friday, or through our inquiry form here, and someone will get back to you within 24-hours.