How to treat yourself if you have flu

With hospitals struggling, flu cases high in the North East and reports of Aussie flu, here's what to do if you find yourself feeling under the weather.

First of all, don't head straight to A&E - hospital departments are struggling to cope with heavy winter demand, and unless you have added complications and genuinely need hospital treatment, you will be causing a strain on the system.

People who are otherwise fit and healthy can treat themselves at home, and the illness will usually clear up without medical help.

Flu symptoms come on very quickly and can include:

:: A sudden fever – a temperature of 38C or above

:: Aching body

:: Feeling tired or exhausted

:: Dry, chesty cough

:: Sore throat

:: Headache

:: Difficulty sleeping

:: Loss of appetite

:: Diarrhoea or tummy pain

:: Nausea and being sick

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The symptoms are similar for children, but they can also get pain in their ear and appear less active.

How to treat flu yourself

To help you get better more quickly:

:: Rest and sleep

:: Keep warm

:: Take paracetamol or ibuprofen to lower your temperature and treat aches and pains

:: Drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration

Prevention is better than a cure - get vaccinated

People eligible for a free flu vaccine include

:: Anyone aged 65 and over

:: Pregnant women

:: Children and adults with an underlying health condition (particularly long-term heart or respiratory disease)

:: Children and adults with weakened immune systems

Can I get the flu vaccine privately?

People who aren't eligible for a flu jab on the NHS can pay for a flu vaccination privately if they wish.

The flu vaccine may be available from pharmacies or in supermarkets. It is provided on a private patient basis and you have to pay. The vaccine costs up to £20.