The flu comes around every year when the days get darker and the weather becomes colder. The flu is a contagious disease which is caused by an influenza virus and is often mistaken for a common cold. Every winter on average, around 1 in 10 people suffer from it in the Netherlands.
The flu usually starts with a high fever and chills and often people suffer from a cold, dry cough, painful throat, headaches and muscles aches over the entire body. Although people can feel really sick, the pain and the fever usually disappear after 3 to 5 days. It can however take a couple of weeks before you feel like yourself again.
If you suspect you have the flu, try to take it a little easy, avoid strenuous activities and drink plenty of fluids. If you are experiencing pain, paracetamol can help. Unfortunately there are no effective medications against the flu. Antibiotics have no effect since they only work against bacterial infections and there are no effective anti-viral medications on the market yet.
The flu can cause more severe symptoms in some people and to those patients who are at risk, such as the chronically ill and elderly, a flu shot is offered by sending them an invitation. You should contact the practice if you think you have the flu and you fall into a risk category or if a child has a fever for more than 3 days. Also contact the practice if an adult has got a fever more than 5 days, is short of breath, drowsy, does not drink enough or if the fever returns after being fever free for a couple of days.
More information can be found at Thuisarts (unfortunately only available in Dutch).