ANTIBIOTICS FOR FLU: DO THEY RELIEVE THE SYMPTOMS?
Influenza commonly referred to as “flu”, is a highly contagious, acute viral infection of the respiratory tract. According to health experts, thousands of people suffer from this serious viral infection every year in Australia, while hundreds of them die of this deadly disease. According to rough estimates, influenza “flu” contributes to more than 3,000 deaths in Australia each year. This viral infection takes the shape of a pandemic during the winter season and puts a significant burden on the economy, causing not only missed days of work and school but also hospitalisations. So, what is the best way to fight influenza and stay healthy during the flu season? Is taking antibiotics for flu safe? Do they relieve the symptoms? Should you use antiviral medications to relieve flu symptoms? Is flu vaccination the best protection against influenza?
It is important to note that neither antibiotics nor antiviral medications or flu shots are a permanent cure for the flu or kill the flu virus; they only lessen the severity or shorten the duration of the associated symptoms.
Antibiotics For Flu – Do They Relieve The Symptoms?
- Firstly, you need to understand that common colds and flu are upper respiratory tract infections that are caused by a virus, so the use of antibiotics is definitely not the right choice, as they are only effective in treating bacterial infections. In fact, taking them to treat the common flu virus may do more harm than good.
- Secondly, you need to understand that taking antibiotics for non-severe viral upper respiratory tract infections such as common cold and flu may compromise your body’s natural response against such diseases and may increase your risk of getting an infection later that may resist antibiotic treatment.
- Thirdly and most importantly, use of antibiotics for the treatment of common cold, flu, cough, irritation of the throat, and other viral illnesses comes with many side effects such as vomiting, diarrhea, rashes, allergies, ototoxicity, fever, and abdominal pain.
That said, if you have developed a secondary bacterial infection, such as sinus infection, ear infection, or bacterial pneumonia, as a complication of flu, your doctor may advise you to use an appropriate antibiotic to it.
Bottom line: Use of antibiotics to relieve the symptoms associated with influenza (flu) is not a safe and effective option since it is not a bacterial infection.
We recommend having the flu vaccination on an annual basis as the best option to minimise potential harm from this nasty infection.
Southgate Medical Centre
Travel Medication: Packing the essentials
Travel Medication: Packing the essentials
For some, packing a suitcase before going travelling can be a difficult task whether you’ve packed too much and struggling to fit it all in your suitcase, or plain and simple you just don’t know what to pack in the first place. While personal belongings are obviously important, packing a travel medical kit is an invaluable item worthy of the precious space in your luggage. These kits don’t have to be large or expensive – typically the size of a lunchbox and can save you a lot of hassle in times of need so there’s really no excuse not to take one.
It is believed around 50% of travellers experience some sort of medical issue whilst travelling overseas, particularly when visiting underdeveloped countries. For major health issues, it is always best to have medical insurance and seek proper medical care, but these issues are often minor inconveniences such as small wounds, diarrhoea, headaches, colds, and bug bites that are annoying but won’t ruin your trip. Having a medical kit allows you to easily treat yourself, prevent it from getting worse, and continue enjoying your amazing holiday!
Where can I get a travel medical kit?
Travellers medical kits with basic first aid are often provided by your doctor if you have a travel consultation, but they are also available for purchase or they are just as easy to put together yourself to suit you and your individual needs. Depending on your destination, some countries may need specific medications to treat things such as altitude sickness in places like the Himalayas or malaria prevention tablets and travellers diarrhoea in South-east Asia, but they can be just added in to individualise your kit.
What do you need to pack inside your travel medical kit?
What makes up the bulk of your travel medical kit is just basic first aid supplies because they cover a broad range of treatments. Some of the crucial things that should be included are band-aids, bandages, gauze, surgical tape, pain relief medication, antihistamines, loperamide tablets (for stopping diarrhoea), mild laxatives (for constipation) antibacterial hand sanitizer and cream, bug bite lotion, insect repellent and sunscreen. As said before, you may need less or more depending on your location and the activities you are undertaking. It won’t hurt to do some careful planning by thinking about and researching the area you are visiting and what may or not be available.
Travelling with prescription medication
If you have any pre-existing medical conditions make sure you have an ample supply of your prescription medication. You may not be able to source the same medication overseas, so it is often best to pack enough supplies to last your whole trip. But before you do do that, some prescription medicines are illegal overseas so seeking professional travel advice and checking with the embassy’s of the country you’re visiting to make sure your medicine is legal there is extremely important to avoid any misunderstandings. If your medication is in the clear, make sure you have all the relevant labelling with the name of the drug, dosage, what it is for, the name of who it is intended for, and when it was prescribed and a letter from your doctor detailing that it is for your personal use. For more information, check out our other post on general advice when travelling with medication.
To find out more about travel medication and organising your individualised travel medical kit, book a consultation with one of our expert Southbank Doctors or call 03 9690 1433 and contact Southgate Medical Centre today.
Malaria Medication: Information And Tips For Travel
Travelling overseas can be an exciting and rewarding experience, giving you the chance to make memories that will last a lifetime. However, without proper planning, even the best-laid plans can go terribly wrong. Travelling to an exotic location? Make sure you are aware of your malaria risk by following these simple steps and know the correct preventative methods such as taking the right malaria medication before travelling.
What is Malaria?
Malaria is an infectious disease of the blood that is transmitted from person to person by the female Anopheles mosquito. Malaria is a serious and sometimes deadly disease but if detected early, illness and death from malaria can usually be prevented. Malaria is transmitted through the bite of an infected Anopheles mosquito that releases the Plasmodium parasite into your bloodstream. Once an infected mosquito bites a human, the parasites multiply in the host’s liver before infecting and destroying red blood cells. The World Health Organisation estimates that 216 million cases of malaria occurred worldwide in 2016 and around 445 000 people died from the disease.
Despite Australia being free from endemic malaria, Australians can still catch the disease when travelling to malaria-affected countries in tropical regions such as Asia, Africa, and Central or South America. Each year there are approximately 500 cases of malaria diagnosed in Australia with majority cases involving people who have travelled to malaria-affected countries and didn’t take anti-malarial medications.
Malaria symptoms can include fever, chills and a flu-like illness and when left untreated can cause serious complications including death. Symptoms can start to appear after 7 days or more. If you experience a fever within 3 months of possible exposure make sure to seek medical advice immediately.
How to Prevent Malaria
There is still no reliable malaria vaccine so prevention of this potentially fatal disease mainly relies on avoiding mosquito bites, taking preventive or anti-malarial medication and prompt diagnosis and treatment as soon as symptoms appear. Young children, pregnant women and those with a weakened immune system are the most at risk of developing serious illness if they become infected.
It’s not possible to avoid getting bitten by mosquitoes completely, but the less you’re bitten, the less likely you are to get malaria. To avoid getting mosquito bites you should try to stay indoors when it’s dark outside, preferably in a screened or air-conditioned room. You should also strive to wear protective clothing i.e. long pants and long-sleeved shirts including using insect repellent and bed nets (mosquito netting) when you sleep.
In some places, malaria can be treated and controlled with early diagnosis. However, some countries lack the resources to do this effectively. That’s why prevention is the best cure for any disease.
You can take malaria medication called anti-malarials to prevent and treat malaria. If you’re travelling to an area where malaria is present, it is imperative to reduce the risk of infection by taking medicine before you travel, whilst you’re there and even after you return home. There are a variety of medicines that can prevent malaria dependent on the geographic region in which you will be travelling to and your health condition (for example whether you’re pregnant, elderly or young, sick, or have immunity or resistance to malaria, or have any allergies or sensitivity to medicine).
It is highly important to consume malaria medication if you are aware that the location you are travelling to is malaria-affected and to follow the correct schedule for taking them. Majority of people get infected due to them not taking the right malaria medication or not following the correct dosing schedule. After returning home from your travels, it is advised that you continue taking the medicine for the recommended length of time in order to make sure that all parasites have been eliminated from your body. It is required that you continue taking the medicine for 1 to 4 weeks upon returning home.
If you’re planning to travel overseas to malaria-affected countries, you should get advice from your local GP or a travel clinic 4-6 weeks before you depart. Book a consultation with your friendly Southbank Doctors at Southgate Medical today for a thorough discussion relating to your travel plans.
Motion Sickness Medication: How To Treat Travel Sickness
Motion sickness (aka travel sickness or kinetosis) occurs when there is confusion between the movements that you perceive with your eyes and the movement sensed by your vestibular system. It is a common sickness and it can occur whilst on the road, up in the air or out at sea. The most likely symptoms are nausea, dizziness and fatigue.
If you are travelling by car, bus or train you may experience travel sickness, especially when you are trying to read a book or a map. This is because your eyes mostly see the interior of the motor vehicle, which is motionless, while your inner ear senses motion as the vehicle goes around corners or over hills and even small bumps. Looking out the window can help, but not always. This is because another cause of motor vehicle sickness is when your eyes view motion outside while riding in the moving vehicle while your inner ear sense stillness, creating conflict between your eyes and inner ear.
If you are travelling by aeroplane you may experience a slightly worse form of motion sickness on occasions when the aeroplane may bank and tilt sharply. Also it can be harder to relieve nausea by looking out of the window because aeroplanes have smaller windows and many non-window seats. Therefore it is likely to see only the stationary interior of the plane. Another factor is that while in flight, the view out of the windows may be blocked by clouds, preventing window-seat passengers from seeing the moving ground or moving lower clouds.
If you are travelling by sea, your motion sickness may be significantly worse still, due to the constant rocking motion of the boat or ship. As with air sickness, it can be difficult to visually detect motion even if one looks outside of the boat. This is because water does not always offer fixed points with which to visually judge motion. Poor visibility conditions, such as fog, may worsen sea sickness. Although it depends on the type of boat you are travelling in, sea sickness can, in extreme cases, cause vertigo, and can completely ruin a traveller’s holiday.
Without proper treatment, motion causing nausea will often cause you vomit, which often will not relieve the feeling of nausea.
There are a variety of over-the-counter and prescription motion sickness medications available to treat travel sickness. These medications work in different ways. Some medications act directly on the vestibular system by blocking nerve signals to the area of the brain that controls vomiting. Others have been found to improve blood flow to the inner ear and thus can be used to block the clashing message from the vestibular system.
Choosing the right motion sickness medication depends on a number of factors, such as the time the medication takes to work, the longevity of the medication and whether you are currently taking any other medications, have any existing illnesses or are pregnant.
If you are thinking of travelling overseas and are concerned about motion sickness, we suggest that you visit one of our Southbank Medical Clinic to find out the best treatment for you. Our Southbank Doctors specialise in travel medicine and will be able to guide you through the process of finding the right way to combat your motion sickness. Click here to book a consultation or call 03 9690 1433.
Recommended Vaccinations For Overseas Travel
The adage “prevention is better than cure” is especially relevant before embarking on any kind of travel overseas. Travel to overseas countries may expose individuals to certain infectious diseases that are not prevalent within Australia and may prove to be extremely fatal. This makes it critical to immunise yourself against potential hazards by getting the right kinds of vaccination before you set out on your trip.
During your pre-travel consultation with your GP, it is important that you share all information relating to your travel plans including your detailed travel itinerary to ensure that your GP will be able to provide reliable advice pertaining to the recommended vaccinations and other general travel advice before you embark on overseas travel.
It is recommended that your GP adopt a risk assessment approach while advocating a list of vaccines to be completed. According to the Australian Department of Health, it is recommended that you consult with your GP between 6-8 weeks prior to the departure of your trip in order for your GP to correctly schedule the recommended vaccinations needed before your trip.
Some countries require proof of vaccinations as a prerequisite for entry to the country. Be informed about what vaccinations are considered mandatory by checking the destination country’s consulate. Alternatively, Smartraveller.gov.au has specific travel information for a host of travel destinations across the globe.
Yellow fever vaccinations are necessary prior to undertaking travel to certain countries within Africa. It is highly recommended that individuals travelling to developing countries get vaccinated against Hepatitis A. Other common diseases against which travellers are recommended to get vaccinations against include hepatitis B, cholera, typhoid, tuberculosis, influenza, meningococcal disease, japanese encephalitis and rabies. Travellers over the age of 65 are also generally advised to get a pneumonia vaccination.
If you wish to have a confidential discussion relating to your upcoming travel plans, your attentive Southbank Doctors at Southgate Medical Centre are more than willing to guide you.
General Advice When Travelling With Medication
Travelling overseas for a vacation is among the most exciting situations for most people. However, not enough thought is given to making preventive health-related arrangements prior to embarking on a trip. Travelling with medication overseas involves careful planning ahead of time to avoid any kind of hassles or stress that may arise with customs officials.
While planning your vacation itinerary, keep in mind the possible health risks that are associated with all planned activities and try to mitigate any unnecessary risks from being undertaken. You should plan to get started with your health-related arrangements between 6-8 weeks in before your impending date of departure.
The type of vaccination will ultimately depend on the risks prevalent in the intended location of travel. It is a good idea to familiarize yourself with the kinds of risks that may be present in the country of travel. Smartraveller.gov.au has a list of informational resources relating to the specific health risks in the country of chosen travel and relevant travel advice.
No matter your travel budget, having an insurance plan is a prerequisite that keen attention must be paid to. In addition to having a plan that covers theft of baggage or belongings, or flight cancellations, make sure your plan also covers medical expenses relating to potential injury or illness in the case of accidents.
While compiling your travel medical kit, it is crucial that the medication being carried meets the legal requirements imposed by the country. Ensure that you carry a quantity of medication that will last the duration of your trip, as it is possible that your doctor’s prescription may not be valid overseas.
It is always recommended that you have an accompanying doctor’s prescription and letter authorising that the medication being carried while travelling is for personal use. In addition to this, ensure that all medication is stored in their original packaging with all labels, so that authorised custom officials will be able to easily examine all medication and related products. While packing, it is recommended that you pack away your medication kit in your carry-on luggage in the unfortunate event that your checked-in baggage is delayed or lost.
It is also recommended that you carry motion sickness tablets, general pain relief medication such as analgesic drugs which include aspirin or paracetamol, cold and flu medication, lubricating eye drops and indigestion medication. This however, is not an exhaustive list and it is recommended that you get your GP to recommend and sign off on the list of medication to be carried. The innumerable fatal infections that could be contracted from insects like mosquitoes, fleas and tics range from the deadly Zika virus to other equally life-threatening infectious diseases like Malaria and Dengue. It is incredibly important to protect yourself from these conditions by including in your travel medical kit products like insect repellants and mosquito nets. Don’t forget to carry a hand-sanitiser and sunscreen as well.
To ensure you have a safe and enjoyable vacation, start making health-related arrangements well in advance. Book a consultation with your friendly Southbank Doctors at Southgate Medical today for a thorough discussion relating to your travel health arrangements at the earliest!l