Public health experts recommend vaccination against flu where possible. / sur

Doctors report big increase in respiratory illnesses in Malaga province

Accident and emergency departments are seeing as many as 400 patients a day and extra staff have had to be assigned to some health centres to cope with the demand

Ángel Escalera
ÁNGEL ESCALERA MALAGA.

There has been a significant rise in the number of people with colds and flu in Malaga recently and staff at health centres with emergency departments say they are seeing as many as 400 cases a day.

Many patients have gone to the accident and emergency departments because the health centres have been closed for three days over Christmas, and extra doctors have had to be assigned in some areas to cope with the demand.

The symptoms normally begin with a sore throat and runny nose, and then a fever with temperatures of 38 – 39 degrees for 24 to 48 hours. The patients normally recover within five days and medical staff say they are seeing very few cases with complications.

Pain all over, fever and cough

During the worst days of the illness, patients with flu may also suffer pain all over their body and sometimes a bronchial infection. Some have reported vomiting and diarrhea at first as well, similar to gastroenteritis.

Experts say this sudden increase in these respiratory infections is due to several factors, including the fact that most people have stopped wearing face masks because these help to stop viruses spreading. Many people have been spending time with others in enclosed spaces for Christmas celebrations recently, as well, making it easier for infections to occur.

Treatment

Patients are normally treated with paracetamol and ibuprofen and told to drink plenty of water. If they have a bad and persistent cough, they are prescribed a cough mixture with codeine. Doctors say infections caused by viruses cannot be treated with antibiotics.

Flu spreads easily from one person to another and can affect any age. Public health experts recommend avoiding contact with anyone who has flu, and say that everyone should cover their mouth and nose with a handkerchief when sneezing or coughing. It is also a good idea to wash hands with water and soap or use a sanitising gel regularly, and not to touch the eyes, nose or mouth. And the best way to avoid getting the flu, they insist, is vaccination.