The Australian flu season varies in severity each year, but roughly speaking runs in line with the colder months from May to September.
Defined as an infection of the nose, throat and lungs, it is broken down into three virus strains: Influenza A, B and occasionally C.
Symptoms generally include the rapid onset of fever, headache, muscle ache, fatigue, sneezing, a cough and runny nose.
SA Health notes: “Most people recover within a week, although the cough and fatigue may last longer”.
They continue the flu is “much more serious than the common cold” with possible complications including pneumonia.
The flu is highly contagious and is spread when an infected person releases small particles into the air by coughing, sneezing or even talking. It can also be spread by touching items where the germs are present, including hands and tissues.
Last year 250,000 people tested positive to influenza. This was the highest incidence of the flu in almost a decade with double the number of flu cases from 2016. It also resulted in twice the normal volume of hospital admissions.
The past few months have also seen a bumper flu season in the US and Europe, prompting concern Australia might be about to again follow suit.
As a result, the Federal Government is urging all Australians to get a flu shot in advance of the flu season 2018, noting 4.5 million of us are at risk of contracting the flu this year. The very young, the elderly, pregnant women, and those with compromised immune systems are most at risk of suffering severe complications of the flu.
Australians have been quick to follow the medical advice of the government, with news last week supplies of the flu vaccine across the nation were already running low.
News Ltd reported a week out from winter the 10 million doses of flu vaccine available had already been rationed due to short supply. States to report a shortage so far include NSW and Victoria, but 800,000 more dosages will be released in the coming weeks.
If a flu shot is not possible, not your preference, or not available there are a number of steps you can take in a bid to fend off the flu.
The Australian Government recommends:
Meanwhile, general immunity plays a role. Ensure you get enough rest, and maintain a balanced, healthy diet.
What are your top tips for avoiding the flu and will you be getting the flu shot this year?
Cassandra Charlesworth is a features writer with 20 years’ journalism experience. She loves a good old-fashioned story and getting to the heart of a great yarn. She’s also a mum to three children who have encouraged her to hone some secret skills. Nimbly navigating Lego pieces left on her loungeroom floor and creating stylish Barbie attire from all manner of household objects are just a couple of credentials she’s recently added to her resume.