The symptoms of flu are similar to a very bad cold. They include a high temperature, an aching body, tiredness and a headache.
Flu will usually get better in about a week if you rest, keep warm, drink plenty of fluids and take painkillers. Antibiotics do not help with flu.
You can help avoid flu by getting the flu vaccine every year.
Flu symptoms come on very quickly and can include:
- a sudden high temperature of 38C or above
- an aching body
- feeling tired or exhausted
- a dry cough
- a sore throat
- a headache
- difficulty sleeping
- loss of appetite
- diarrhoea or tummy pain
- feeling sick and being sick
The symptoms are similar for children, but they can also get pain in their ear and appear less active.
To help you get better more quickly:
- rest and sleep
- keep warm
- take paracetamol or ibuprofen to lower your temperature and treat aches and pains
- drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration (your pee should be light yellow or clear)
A pharmacist can give treatment advice and recommend flu remedies.
Be careful not to use flu remedies if you're taking paracetamol and ibuprofen tablets as it's easy to take more than the recommended dose.
The flu vaccine is a safe and effective vaccine. It's offered every year on the NHS to help protect people at risk of flu and its complications.
The best time to have the flu vaccine is in the autumn before flu starts spreading. But you can get the vaccine later.
Who can have the flu vaccine
The flu vaccine is given to people who:
- are 65 and over (including those who'll be 65 by 31 March 2021)
- have certain health conditions
- are pregnant
- are in a long-stay residential care
- receive a carer's allowance, or are the main carer for an older or disabled person who may be at risk if you get sick
- live with someone who's at high risk from coronavirus (on the NHS shielded patient list)
- frontline health or social care workers
Advice for people aged 50 to 64
If you're aged 50 to 64 and have a health condition that means you're more at risk from flu, you should get your flu vaccine as soon as possible.
Other 50- to 64-year-olds will be contacted about a flu vaccine later.
Where to get the flu vaccine
You can have the NHS flu vaccine at:
- your GP surgery
- a pharmacy offering the service
- your midwifery service if you're pregnant
If you have your flu vaccine at a pharmacy, you do not have to tell the GP. The pharmacist should tell them.
Due to high demand for the flu vaccine, there may be some delays getting a vaccination appointment. Your GP surgery or pharmacy should be able to tell you when more appointments are available.
Find out more about the flu vaccine:
Page last reviewed: 06-08-2019
Next review due:06-08-2022