Flu: stay home, GP urges

BALLARAT residents are urged to avoid the culture of presenteesim and stay at home if they have the flu.

Eureka Medical Centre GP Eddy Shumba said most people coming to the clinic were those suffering from influenza.

“This is peak flu season,” Dr Shumba said. “For the last four weeks, 80 per cent of the people are presenting with purely the flu.”

Dr Shumba said flu symptoms were a sore throat, runny or blocked nose, congested sinuses and coughing.

“Sometimes people have fever, headache, muscle and joint ache too,” he said.

“If you are feeling sick, see a doctor and make sure it is flu.”

Bed rest, plenty of fluids and treating the symptoms were the best way to get through the flu, he said.

“It is better to stay at home than to come to work and spread it to your colleagues,” Dr Shumba said.

“The culture of presenteeism is not great. It is counter-productive as it harms the (overall) productivity.”

However, he said patients should avoid using antibiotics to treat the flu.

“Most people present hoping to get a prescription of antibiotics,” he said. “That’s not the treatment for flu. 

“It is very important to understand the flu is a virus not a bacteria, and antibiotics kill bacteria not virus.”

Dr Shumba said the unnecessary use of antibiotic could lower the immune system and make people fall sick more often. 

The influenza spread through the air so maintaining hygiene was important to stop transmission, he said.

“Use disposable tissues and wash your hands,” he said.

“Babies and the elderly need to take extra care because the immune system may already be compromised,” he said.

“It makes them susceptible to developing complications or indeed have super-imposed bacterial infection over the cold.

“They may end up with pneumonia, which can be life threatening,” he said.

Dr Shumba said once the flu was caught, patients should try to stay warm and wait for the influenza to run its course.

“Take Panadol or Nurofen if you have fever, lozenges for sore throat or gargle with salt water or mouth wash,” he 

said.

“Treat the symptoms and just wait for the flu to go thorough its own course which usually takes about seven days.”

neelima.choahan@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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