What Is the Flu?

what is the flu

Most of us have caught the flu bug before. The flu, or influenza, is an illness caused by flu viruses which infect your nose, throat and lungs. When you are down with the flu, you show signs and symptoms that include fever, cough, sore throat and body ache.

Diabetes Can Turn Flu into a Serious Problem

For most people, the flu is usually mild and lasts only a few days. But if you have diabetes, the flu can lead to serious problems such as infection of the lung, ear and sinus. In severe cases, it can result in hospitalisation and may even lead to death.

Having the flu can also make it harder to control your blood glucose.

Protect Yourself and Get a Flu Vaccine

One of the best ways to protect yourself against the flu is to get a flu vaccine each year. It is safe and most people have no side effects.

Because it takes roughly two weeks for a vaccine to be effective, get your flu vaccine before peak flu season starts. In Singapore, the season is generally from December to February and May to July.

Your doctor can advise you on the flu vaccine suitable for you. In addition, check with your doctor whether you should get the pneumococcal vaccine to protect against pneumonia.

Take Everyday Preventive Actions

take everyday preventive actions

Besides the annual flu vaccination, there are preventive actions you can take to avoid the flu bug:

  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.

These hygiene habits can protect you from getting sick and if you are sick, prevent others from catching your flu.

Related: Know How To Fight Flu

What to Do If You Fall Sick

what to do if you fall sick

If you have diabetes and the flu:

  • Ask your doctor about taking antiviral drugs. Antiviral drugs work best when you start taking them within 48 hours after flu symptoms start. They help you feel better, recover faster and reduce the risk of serious problems.
  • Don’t stop taking your diabetes pills when you have the flu. Call your doctor if you are too sick to take them.
  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Rest at home.
  • Avoid strenuous activities such as running or fast cycling.


See your doctor at once if you have any of these warning signs:

  • difficulty breathing
  • pain or tightness over your chest
  • non-stop vomiting
  • dizziness
  • confusion

Be prepared before the flu season arrives!

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