The HSE is urging people to avail of its new website undertheweather.ie for advice on how to get better and when to consult a doctor, as rates of winter illnesses rise. According to the health body the incidence of one common winter illness, respiratory syncytial virus, has almost doubled in the last week.
RSV is the most common cause of severe respiratory illness among children under two years of age and, although most children recover well at home, it can also be the cause of hospital admissions due to acute respiratory illness in young children, according to GP and Irish College of General Practitioners lead on antimicrobial resistance, Dr Nuala O’Connor.
“With most winter illnesses, including many cases of RSV, no specific treatment other than treatment of symptoms to reduce temperature is necessary,” Dr O’Connor said. “The HSE’s new website undertheweather.ie, developed in conjunction with GPs and pharmacists, provides a wealth of information on many common illnesses and is the best place to get advice about the symptoms of RSV and other ailments, how to manage them, and when you are likely to get better.
“The best way to prevent many winter illnesses, like RSV infection, is by frequent hand washing, avoiding sharing items such as cups, glasses, and utensils with ill people, and staying home from crèches, work, hospitals, and schools until you are better.
“Antibiotics won't help with many of these illnesses,” Dr O’Connor added. “The treatment for most people is rest, fluids, and over the counter medicines for relief of symptoms. For practical advice on how to care for someone with common viral illnesses, like RSV, people should visit www.undertheweather.ie where they will find sensible practical advice along with videos from GPs and pharmacists.”