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HealthInfo Canterbury

Flu (influenza)

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Influenza, commonly known as the flu, is very different to a cold and people often confuse these two conditions. Both are caused by viruses, but if you have the flu, you become much more unwell. The risk of becoming very unwell with the flu is higher in elderly people, children, and those with serious health problems. Even younger healthy people can become very unwell with the flu.

Some people with the flu will need to go to hospital, and every year people die from the flu. Flu causes people to miss work, school, university, and so on for a least one week, but it can often take several weeks to return to normal health.

The symptoms of the flu include high fevers, sweats, muscle and joint aches, headaches, lack of energy, sore throat, chesty cough, runny eyes and nose.

If you are unwell, it's important that you stay away from work, school, and gatherings of other people. See your doctor if your symptoms get worse or if you are worried. If you have an ongoing medical condition or are 65 or older, see your doctor because the complications of the flu could be worse for you.

Doctors no longer recommend Tamiflu (oseltamivir) for treating the flu and it is not subsidised. If you want to take Tamiflu, you will have to pay the full price.

  HealthInfo recommends the following pages

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On the next page: Flu (influenza) vaccinations

Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Updated March 2017.

See also:

Acute bronchitis

Colds and sinusitis

Page reference: 47253

Review key: HIFLU-32471