The flu jab is also recommended each year to protect people from the illness – but why might it not be as effective this year?
Dr Sarah Jarvis explained that there are a number of issues with the flu and the vaccine this year.
She said: “We’ve got two or three issues with the flu vaccine/flu this year. One is that sometimes the number of cases is just high – we can’t do anything about that.
“Two is that this year we’ve got two main strains circulating. One of them is the H3N2 – that’s one of the A viruses – and the point about the H3N2 is the vaccine does not appear to be as effective in terms of preventing it – even though the H3N2 is included in the vaccine.
“We’re still talking 20 to 30 per cent effectiveness, which is a great deal better than none. The second big one is a B strain and that’s called the Yamagata. Unfortunately the adult vaccine does not protect against the Yamagata.
“You get some cross protection in the vaccine from another B strain but it’s not provided at the same levels.”
Dr Jarvis still recommends people get the flu jab.
She said: “I’d absolutely tell people to get it. I particularly advise the people who are advised to get it [over 65s, pregnant women and those with chronic conditions like diabetes, lung and heart disease] because they are the ones, not just most likely to get it, but most likely to get nasty complications.
“I also recommend kids get it as they’re very good at spreading it about.
“When you get the jab it’s not just protecting you but other people.”
So how’s best to treat flu if you have it?
To help you get better more quickly, the NHS advises you to:
- 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 (your pee should be light yellow or clear)