THE Welsh Ambulance Service is urging people to get protected as the flu season approaches.
Last year, flu led to more than a hundred deaths in the UK, claiming 107 lives and affecting thousands more.
The Trust is reminding the public that its NHS Direct Wales service is available 24/7 for free, confidential advice to help you beat winter bugs.
Log on and take part in the flu quiz to test your knowledge of the virus, or answer questions about your symptoms and general health on the Cold and Flu Symptom Checker to get tailored advice on the best course of action.
Alternatively, call NHS Direct Wales for over the phone advice on how to get vaccinated against the virus.
Paul Hughes, Medical Director at the Welsh Ambulance Service said: “The effects of seasonal flu are often underestimated, and it can often result in more serious complications which require hospital treatment.
“This illness is preventable, so it is important that those at risk protect themselves every year.”
Adults experience an average of 2-4 colds a year, mostly during the winter months.
In most cases, you will be able to treat the symptoms of a cold at home by using a number of self-care measures that the symptom checker will give information about. In some cases the symptom checker may direct you to another health service depending on your answers.
Dr Hughes added: “People can get personalised advice on managing symptoms effectively whenever they need it by logging on to this easy-to-use, interactive symptom checker.
“If you are unsure about being in the ‘at-risk’ from flu group, don’t know how to get vaccinated or generally want to know how to keep healthy during the autumn and winter months, please visit www.nhsdirect.wales.nhs.uk or call NHS Direct Wales on 0845 46 47.”
• If you would like advice about your illness or are concerned about your symptoms, then in the first instance call NHS Direct Wales or phone your GP who will assess your symptoms and provide appropriate advice
• Take bed rest, drink plenty of non-alcoholic fluids and paracetamol can help
• People in ‘at-risk’ groups, aged 65 or over or who are pregnant may be prescribed antivirals to protect against complications
• If you do have cold or flu-like symptoms, you should not go to your GP or emergency department as this increases the risk of spreading the infection
• You should not visit a patient in hospital if you have cold or flu-like symptoms, a chest infection, diarrhoea or vomiting. This will help limit the spread of infection to vulnerable and susceptible patients
Prevent the spread of flu:
• Cover your nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing
• Use a tissue when possible
• Dispose of dirty tissues promptly and carefully
• Maintain good basic hygiene, for example washing hands frequently with soap and water to reduce the spread of the virus from your hands to face or to other people
• Clean hard surfaces (e.g. door handles) frequently using a normal cleaning product