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Adelaide’s hospitals struggle to deal with demand at emergency departments

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Adelaides hospitals systems are still under siege, with public emergency departments well over capacity and chronic ramping. With the 2018 Flu season well into full swing, emergency departments contain to run at maximum capacity.

Members of the public are encouraged to the national Health Direct line for advice and information, which provides online and telephone access to trusted health information and advice.  The line is staffed by registered nurses 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You can reach them by calling 1800 022 222.

Influenza, commonly known as the flu, is an infection of the nose, throat and lungs caused by the influenza A or B (or rarely C) viruses. It is highly infectious.

In Australia, seasonal flu of varying severity occurs every year, usually between May and September.

Signs and symptoms

Symptoms include:

  • rapid onset of fever
  • headache
  • muscle aches
  • fatigue
  • sneezing
  • running nose
  • sore throat
  • a cough.

Most people recover within a week, although the cough and fatigue may last longer. Flu is much more serious than the common cold. It can lead to pneumonia (lung infection or inflammation) and other complications, and even death, particularly in:

  • people aged 65 years and over
  • pregnant women
  • young children
  • people with chronic conditions like heart disease, diabetes and lung disease.

 

Treatment

Most people recover with rest, drinking plenty of fluids and using paracetamol to relieve pain and fever. Aspirin should not be given to children under 12 years of age unless specifically recommended by a doctor.

People with moderate or severe illness, pregnant women, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians and those with chronic medical conditions may benefit from specific antiviral medication. This can reduce symptoms by about 1 day and prevent some of the more serious flu complications, but it is only effective if commenced within 48 hours of illness onset.

Antiviral therapy may sometimes be used to prevent infection in close contacts of people with flu, such as vulnerable household contacts and residents of institutions such as aged care facilities. A contact is any person who has been close enough to an infected person to be at risk of having acquired the infection from that person.

When to seek medical advice

Seek medical advice if:

  • you are concerned about the symptoms
  • symptoms are getting worse
  • shortness of breath
  • difficulty breathing
  • confusion
  • inability to keep liquids down because of vomiting
  • symptoms of dehydration (such as being dizzy when standing or passing much less urine than normal).

 

First Aid Courses you might be interested in:

 

Prevention

  • Exclude people with flu from childcare, preschool, school and work until there has been no fever for 24 hours (without using a fever-reducing medicine such as paracetamol).
  • Wash hands as soon as possible after sneezing or coughing and after contact with nose and throat discharges or articles soiled by these. Use soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Wipe down all frequently touched surfaces regularly with a cleaning cloth dampened with detergent or a large alcohol wipe.
  • Cover a cough or sneeze with a tissue or your arm, not with your hand. Drop used tissues immediately into a rubbish bin, then wash your hands.
  • Flu vaccines reduce the risk of getting severe influenza. Flu vaccination is required every year as the influenza virus is constantly changing, and each year the flu vaccines are altered to provide protection against the circulating strains.
  • Annual flu vaccination is recommended for anyone 6 months or older who wishes to reduce the likelihood of becoming ill with flu.
  • Annual flu vaccination is strongly recommended and should be actively promoted for people at increased risk of complications from flu infection or who may transmit flu infection to others at increased risk of complications.

 

Useful links


SA Health Immunisations
Immunisation
Immunisation programs
Flu vaccine and pregnancy frequently asked questions
Flu vaccine frequently asked questions
Flu vaccine myths
Vaccines

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