Flu will often get better on its own, but it can make some people seriously ill. It’s important to get the flu vaccine if you’re advised to.
Check if you have flu
Flu symptoms come on very quickly and can include:
a sudden fever – a temperature of 38C or above
an aching body
feeling tired or exhausted
a dry cough
a sore throat
loss of appetite
diarrhoea or tummy pain
feeling sick and being sick
The symptoms are similar for children, but they can also get pain in their ear and appear less active.
Telling the difference between cold and flu
Could it be coronavirus?
If you have a high temperature, a new, continuous cough or a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste, it could be coronavirus (COVID-19).
Get advice about coronavirus symptoms and what to do
How to treat flu yourself
To help you get better more quickly:
rest and sleep
take paracetamol or ibuprofen to lower your temperature and treat aches and pains
drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration (your pee should be light yellow or clear)
A pharmacist can help with flu
A pharmacist can give treatment advice and recommend flu remedies.
Be careful not to use flu remedies if you’re taking paracetamol and ibuprofen tablets as it’s easy to take more than the recommended dose.
Call your pharmacy or contact them online before going in person. You can get medicines delivered or ask someone to collect them.
Find a pharmacy
Urgent advice: Get advice from 111 now if:
you’re worried about your baby’s or child’s symptoms
you’re 65 or over
you have a long-term medical condition – for example, diabetes or a heart, lung, kidney or neurological disease
you have a weakened immune system – for example, because of chemotherapy or HIV
your symptoms do not improve after 7 days
111 will tell you what to do. They can arrange a phone call from a nurse or doctor if you need one.
Go to 111.nhs.uk or call 111.
Other ways to get help
GPs do not recommend antibiotics for flu because they will not relieve your symptoms or speed up your recovery.
Immediate action required: Call 999 or go to A&E if you:
develop sudden chest pain
have difficulty breathing
start coughing up blood
How to avoid spreading the flu
Flu is very infectious and easily spread to other people. You’re more likely to give it to others in the first 5 days.
Flu is spread by germs from coughs and sneezes, which can live on hands and surfaces for 24 hours.
To reduce the risk of spreading flu:
wash your hands often with warm water and soap
use tissues to trap germs when you cough or sneeze
bin used tissues as quickly as possible
See how to wash your hands correctly
How to get the flu vaccine
The flu vaccine is a safe and effective vaccine. It’s offered every year on the NHS to help protect people at risk of flu and its complications.
The best time to have the flu vaccine is in the autumn before flu starts spreading. But you can get the vaccine later.