Symptoms, duration, complications… what you need to know about the flu

Influenza has represented more than a quarter of the consultations that the SOS doctors have carried out in the past two weeks. According to the weekly bulletin of Public Health France, published on Wednesday, December 28, the number of cases is still increasing and experiencing a “very high intensity and clearly increasing”.

Fever, dry cough, fatigue

How do you know if you have the flu? Ameli, the Assurance Maladie website, provides a list of symptoms that leaves little room for doubt. If you have a high fever, chills, cough, joint and muscle pain, fatigue, there is a good chance that you have the flu.

After contamination with the influenza virus, the disease manifests itself within 48 hours. And these symptoms may occur:

  • High fever (around 39°C) accompanied by chills;
  • Intense fatigue (asthenia), a feeling of depression with loss of appetite;
  • Diffuse muscle (pain) and joint pain;
  • Headache (headache);
  • A dry, painful cough.

“The person infected with the influenza virus is contagious to others, up to five days after the first symptoms in adults, or even seven days in children.”

Amelie (Health insurance)

How long time ?

In general, it takes a week to recover from the flu in healthy people. However, a dry cough can drag on for several days, and fatigue can last for three or four weeks.

If the peak of the Covid-19 wave seems to have passed, “the flu is on the rise”

On the other hand, complications are frequent in weak people.

Influenza or Covid? The symptoms are similar and result in a viral respiratory infection. The loss of taste and smell suggests, on the other hand, that it is Covid-19. A test will decide.

Fragile people, but not only

People in the risk group are those whose respiratory tract or immune system is weakened (smokers, very young children, the elderly, pregnant women and people with a chronic disease, etc.). “It is to avoid this type of complication that fragile people are invited to be vaccinated against influenza for free”, recalls the Institut Pasteur de Lille.

Complications and serious cases mainly concern the elderly, hence the vigilance especially in nursing homes. But the virulence of influenza worries this year Public Health France, which indicates that “the proportion of people aged 65 and over among patients admitted to intensive care is the same as the proportion of younger people between 15 and 64 years ( 42% and 41 %)”.

Three professional tips to not let the flu ruin your holiday

A vaccine to protect yourself

The best way to protect yourself from the flu and its complications is vaccination. In healthy adults, the protection of the vaccine exceeds 80% on average, specifies the Pasteur Institute. Protection against the virus declines in the elderly (60%), but the vaccine “reduces the severity and incidence of complications”.

Each year, the flu kills between 10,000 and 15,000 people.

The president of Covars Brigitte Autran reminds that to protect against complications related to influenza, the vaccine remains the best solution. The H3N2 virus “is contained in the vaccine. I would like to remind everyone that the flu vaccination is effective against this serious form of flu. It is never too late to get vaccinated”.

Advice from an emergency doctor about being taken care of in case of influenza

From 18 October until 31 January 2023, it is possible to get vaccinated against influenza at a doctor, pharmacy, nurse or midwife.

Malik Kebour

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