Beating those winter bugs
Melissa Appleby from Baptcare’s Nursing and Allied Health team shares some simple steps you can take to help you avoid colds and flu this winter.
Colds and flu are much more common in winter. More than 200 different viruses cause the common cold, while flu (influenza) is caused by a different group of viruses and is a far more severe health condition. Antibiotics are not a suitable treatment for colds and flu because they target bacteria, not viruses.
To help protect yourself and others, remember to:
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze
- Throw tissues in the bin after use
- Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze
- Use alcohol-based hand sanitisers
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth, as germs spread this way.
You and the flu
Getting a flu vaccination can help protect you against influenza.
The viruses that cause the flu change every year because the influenza virus has a unique ability to alter its surface structure. This means that even if you had the flu or an immunisation one year, your body’s immune system might be unable to fight the changed version of the virus that circulates in the following year.
Each year, a new vaccine is developed (usually called the seasonal vaccine) and is available for those who wish to be immunised. The seasonal influenza vaccine includes protection against four strains of influenza.
An annual flu immunisation is provided through the National Immunisation Program for most people in the community who are considered to be at an increased risk of complications.
In Victoria, an annual immunisation against the flu is free for people 65 years and older. Talk to your doctor or healthcare professional about your situation and eligibility for free seasonal vaccines.
The information in this newsletter is not intended to replace medical advice from a health professional. Readers are urged to seek advice from a qualified health care professional for diagnosis and answers to their medical questions.