Flu: how to keep yourself safe and spot symptoms

Flu symptoms

Flu, or seasonal influenza, is an unpredictable, recurring pressure faced by the NHS each year. It is highly contagious, particularly during the first five days of infection, and it’s important that we all take the necessary steps required to limit the spread of the flu virus.

Keeping safe during flu season

There are four main ways in which you can ensure that you keep yourself and others as safe as possible:

  • Stay at home if you have symptoms
  • Get your vaccination if advised
  • Wash your hands regularly with soap and water
  • Cough and sneeze into a tissue and dispose of this immediately

Where can I get my vaccinations?

Please see below for information on who is eligible for vaccinations and where you can get vaccinated:




What’s the difference between flu and a cold?

It can be difficult to tell whether you have seasonal influenza or a cold. The main differences between the two are:

  • Flu will come on quickly whereas cold symptoms appear gradually
  • Colds tend to mainly affect the nose and throat whereas flu has additional symptoms
  • Flu will make you feel too unwell to carry out your normal activities

Flu symptoms

The virus can come with a number of symptoms, including:

  • Sudden high temperature
  • Aches
  • Feeling tired or exhausted
  • Dry cough
  • Sore throat
  • Headache
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Loss of appetite
  • Diarrhoea or stomach pain

COVID symptoms

It’s important to remember that there’s still a threat of COVID this winter too. With COVID, you should also try to stay at home if you are experiencing symptoms. These are the same as flu symptoms but could also include:

  • A new, continuous cough – this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or 3 or more coughing episodes in 24 hours
  • A loss or change to your sense of smell or taste
  • Shortness of breath

To help yourself to recover if you have these symptoms, you should:

  • Rest and sleep
  • Keep warm
  • Take paracetamol/ibuprofen to help with aches and a high temperature
  • Drink plenty of water

Through following these necessary steps, you can help yourself and others to stay safe this winter.

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