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It's that time of year again, and we're not talking about Christmas. This season of giving comes with a present you DO NOT want to receive–one which leaves you coughing, sneezing, and feeling completely miserable.
In Singapore, flu season tends to arrive during the cooler periods between May to July, and December to February. The highly-contagious virus can spread up to 6 feet away, and adults may even infect others a day before showing any symptoms–while still appearing completely healthy.
Here's what you need to know to protect yourself and stay healthy this flu season:
Symptoms of flu include the following:
While these are common indicators of the flu, you may or may not have all of the above symptoms.
For example, not everyone with the flu will have a fever (although you may feel feverish or have the chills), and vomiting and diarrhoea are less common in adults than children.
While the flu generally leaves you feeling uncomfortable and weak, it can also lead to serious complications. Consult your doctor whenever you are in doubt.
People often use the 2 terms interchangeably, so it's understandable if you think they're one and the same.
However, the flu and the common cold are actually caused by separate viruses, and it's important to tell them apart as they have rather different implications on your health.
Symptoms for both illnesses may seem similar, but those for the flu are generally more intense. While colds tend to only last a few days, and are characterised by a stuffy or runny nose. The flu often includes fever and body aches, and can leave you miserable for weeks.
Symptoms aside, a bad case of the flu can also lead to major health complications such as pneumonia, inflammation of the heart, and multi-organ failure.
The easiest way to tell what illness you have? Taking your temperature! Fevers often arrive at the beginning of a flu, while they're very rare for colds.
Staying healthy during the flu season can be challenging, as the virus is notoriously contagious. That said, taking the following precautions greatly increases your chances of staying flu-free:
You could also consider a flu vaccination if you spend a lot of time in a crowded office or in similar environments where the chance of infection may be high. A flu vaccination is able to reduce the chance of illness by up to 60%.
You may also want the vaccination if you are in close contact with those who are at risk of developing complications, namely:
It takes 2 weeks for the vaccine to work, so you should get vaccinated before the flu season starts (ie. before May to July or before December to February), once every year.
It's easy to get vaccinated at any hospital or clinic for a fee–a small price to pay to stay healthy!
If you've got flu-like symptoms, take the following steps to recover quickly and prevent spreading the virus to others:
See a doctor immediately if you develop the following symptoms:
Even if your symptoms are not severe, visiting a doctor is recommended to help you recover more quickly and alleviate discomfort. A doctor may prescribe antiviral medication to fight the virus, and painkillers to deal with symptoms like headaches and muscle pains.