Taking care of viral infections

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  • Vaccination is a good protection for influenza and COVID-19.
  • Prevent the spread, wash your hands, cover your coughs, put tissues straight in the bin, and stay away from other people if you or they are sick.

We are seeing cases of viral infections right across the Cape York, Torres Strait, and Northern Peninsula Area regions.

These include influenza, COVID-19, and Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV), as well as common colds. Symptoms may include a runny nose, cough, fever, sore throat, and headache.

Vaccination is a good protection for influenza and COVID-19 and everyone should ensure they are up to date with their seasonal and booster vaccinations for these.

There is no vaccination for RSV or the common cold and the best treatment is management of the symptoms and bed rest.

When you or your infant or child visit your local primary health care clinic with cold and flu, COVID-19, or RSV symptoms, you will be assessed including observing your temperature, heart rate and breathing rate.

Unless your condition is diagnosed as serious enough to warrant additional care, you will initially be prescribed a paracetamol-based drug like Panadol or an anti-inflammatory like Ibuprofen.

These medications are not meant to be strong pain killers, rather they are like a “chemical ice-pack” to help reduce inflammation and relieve symptoms.

Paracetamol, which is the main ingredient in Panadol provides fast, effective temporary relief the pain and discomfort associated with many different common conditions – including headache and cold and flu symptoms.

Panadol can also help to reduce fever when you’re suffering from a temperature.

Anti-inflammatories like ibuprofen also can be used for you or your child to relieve a range of symptoms, including fever that might associated with viral infections like colds and flu and COVID-19 or RSV.

You may also be suitable to receive anti-viral treatment, which can be effective against flu and COVID- 19.

Whilst most people will recover from a virus over a few days, some might have another problem, or might end up with a complication from the rare virus.

As always, if your condition does not improve, or gets worse, you must return to your doctor or local primary health care clinic for further examination and care.

This is even more important in infants and children, when they are not always able to tell you how they are feeling.

If you are worried about them, please return to the clinic to have them reassessed.

Sometimes infants and children can take longer to start improving with viral illnesses, but again it is important to check that is not another problem, or a rare complication from the virus.

In addition, Torres Strait, Cape York, and Northern Peninsula Area residents also should be aware of Ryan’s Rule.

Queensland Health’s Ryan’s Rule process is considered a gold standard for patient-led safety.

Ryan’s Rule applies to all patients cared for in a Queensland Health facility including clinics and hospitals.

It is a way for patients, families, or carers to escalate concerns about a patient whose condition they believe is worsening or not improving as expected, and they feel the staff looking after them have not heard their concerns or recognised how sick the patient is.

Ryan’s Rule brochures and posters are also available in all Queensland health clinics and hospitals and can be provided on request. Information can also be found online on the Queensland Health website.

But trying to avoid getting sick in the first place is best, and good hygiene is very important in preventing the spread of viral infections.

To help prevent the spread, wash your hands, cover your coughs, put tissues straight in the bin, and stay away from other people if you or they are sick.

Practising social distancing by staying at least 1.5 metres away – as recommended during the recent COVID-19 pandemic – will mean coughs and sneezes don’t reach another person’s face.

Wearing a mask also is highly recommended both to avoid transmitting a viral infection to others, and also to protect yourself from people around you who might be sick.

With a viral infection like the flu, or COVID-19 or RSV, or the common cold, you should stay home and rest and drink plenty of fluids until symptoms have resolved, which is usually 5-7 days.