Flu is an illness caused by the influenza virus. It occurs every year, usually in winter. It is important that you protect yourself and others from flu by helping to prevent the spread of the virus and getting the flu vaccine if you are eligible.

You can catch flu – short for influenza – all year round. It is especially common in the rainy season, which is why it is also known as ‘seasonal flu’. It usually peaks between December and March.

It is not the same as the common cold. Flu is caused by a different group of viruses. The symptoms tend to be more severe and last longer.


The symptoms of flu include:

  • fever (typically 38–40°C) - this tends to be more severe in children
  • fatigue/unusual tiredness
  • headache
  • runny nose
  • sore throat
  • shortness of breath or a cough
  • loss of appetite
  • aching muscles
  • vomiting or diarrhoea
  • sensitivity to light
  • insomnia
  • dry, unproductive cough

Flu symptoms usually peak after two or three days and you should begin to feel much better within five to eight days. However, older people or those with certain medical conditions may develop complications that can lead to serious illness and can be life-threatening.

Preventing the spread of the flu virus 

You can take simple steps to help stop the spread of the flu virus. Remember, you should always:

  • carry tissues
  • use tissues to cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze
  • dispose of the dirty tissues quickly
  • wash your hands regularly


It is important to remember that for most people, flu is a mild illness that can be treated at home with rest, drinking plenty of fluids and taking medicine, such as, as directed to control the symptoms.

If you have a high temperature and difficulty breathing, if your symptoms are getting worse over time or you have not improved after a week, you should contact sands.

When do you get in touch with Sandsclinic?

  • you're 65 years of age or over
  • you're pregnant
  • you have a long-term medical condition – such as diabetes, lung disease, kidney disease or a neurological disease
  • you have a weakened immune system – for example, because you're having chemotherapy or have HIV
  • you develop chest pain, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, or start coughing up blood
  • your symptoms are getting worse over time or have not improved after a week