19 July 2024

A local doctor’s useful tips on symptoms, treatment & prevention of flu


Dr Partho Roy

Winter is the flu season here in New Zealand, and recent spike in cases of winter illnesses, has resulted in patients flooding hospital emergency departments. Long wait for appointments with overworked GPs is also making situation worse.

Around 1 in 4 Kiwis are infected with flu each year, yet many people are not fully conversant with the symptoms, its prevention or treatment.

As a GP, I am often asked by worried patients if they have a common cold or flu or even Covid-19 as some symptoms are similar.

So, let me explain various aspects of this highly infectious respiratory illness – influenza (commonly called flu), and give some useful tips to manage flu symptoms.

Flu is mainly caused by influenza A and B viruses, while influenza C virus causes a milder infection that is similar to common cold.

Flu symptoms often appear suddenly and most people have muscle aches and fever that lasts for 2-5 days. Some also have cold-like symptoms- runny nose and sore throat. Nausea,vomiting or diarrhoea can also occur, but is more common in children.

Flu symptoms usually improve over two to five days, although the illness may last for a week or more. Weakness and fatigue, however, may persist for several weeks.

Influenza viruses spread mainly through coughing or sneezing. It can also spread through touching a contaminated surface and then touching your mouth, eyes, or nose. Affected persons can pass flu on to others, one day before symptoms actually develop and up to 5 to 7 days after becoming sick. It is, however, most contagious in the first 3-4 days of illness.

Cold or Flu? Both have similar symptoms and at times, it can be difficult to differentiate based solely on symptoms.

Treating flu symptoms can help you feel better

Generally, flu is worse than the common cold, and symptoms are typically more intense and begin more abruptly, whereas symptoms of a cold are usually milder in comparison. People with colds are more likely to have a runny or stuffy nose. Fever is also rare in common colds. Colds generally do not result in serious health problems, such as pneumonia, bacterial infections, or hospitalizations. Flu, on the other hand, can have serious associated complications.

Influenza and Covid-19 are both contagious respiratory illnesses, caused by different viruses, but have some identical symptoms.  Therefore, testing is needed to rule out Covid -19.

Most people who get the flu usually recover fully within a week, but for some it can cause medical complications which can lead to serious illness and even death. These may include sinus or ear infection, bronchitis, pneumonia, heart failure, worsening asthma  and  miscarriage. Of these, pneumonia is the most common complication.Read More...

Brief profile: Dr Partho Roy is a Hamilton-based General Practitioner, urgent care physician and accredited skin cancer doctor. He is working as a GP in New Zealand since 2013.. In this exclusive to NewsViews, Dr Roy explains & gives some useful tips on symptoms, treatment & prevention of influenza. Keep an eye out for more in our Health series.

Editor’s Note: The above article is for information purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the guidance of your doctor or other qualified health professional for any questions you may have regarding your health or a medical condition.


  1. Having experienced endless wait at ER,prevention, no doubt, is the answer. In this case-flu vaccination

  2. Agreed & coming from a GP directly makes it more trustworthy. Good on you, Newsviews. Time to get my flu jab…

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