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WINTER HEALTH: DR MARK PORTER'S GUIDE TO EVERYTHING YOU EVER NEEDED TO KNOW ABOUT...FLU.

Byline: DR MARK PORTER'S

It's too early to tell whether this year's flu season will be a bad one, but we are due an epidemic - the last big one was in 1989 and it killed 26,000 and cost more than pounds 200 million.

Even in a bad year the odds of catching flu rarely exceed one in 100. Even so, those most at risk should be vaccinated. It is now routinely offered to over 65s, people in nursing homes, and those with chest problems (including asthma), heart, kidney or liver disease, diabetes, and those with a weakened immune system due to disease or treatment (eg chemotherapy).

If you are unlucky enough to catch flu avoid alcohol, drink plenty of fluids - a pint or two a day more than normal - and rest. The harder you push yourself the longer it will take to get better. Expect to need at least a week, and possibly two, off work. Avoid contact with others - flu is highly contagious.

Take paracetamol, ibuprofen or aspirin (not for under 12s) to control fever and ease aches and pains.

Seek medical help if you're not sure it's flu, or if you develop unusual symptoms (eg shortness of breath or a chesty cough with foul sputum).

The flu treatment Relenza can be prescribed on the NHS during an epidemic for those at risk people who have missed the vaccination, and who are able to start treatment within 48 hours of the onset of symptoms.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Sunday Mirror (London, England)
Date:Nov 11, 2001
Words:246
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