Tips on how to steer clear of flu and the ‘winter vomiting bug’

Date: 11/12/2019

Milton Keynes University Hospital is advising people to take precautions to avoid illness this winter.

Viruses such as flu and the winter vomiting bug tend to be more prevalent during the winter months, and you can minimise your chances of contracting them by taking a few simple steps.

Winter vomiting bug

The winter vomiting bug (also known as norovirus) is highly infectious and can cause severe vomiting, diarrhoea and flu-like symptoms. Usually, with people making a full recovery within a couple of days, but it is vital to reduce the risk of it spreading to others, especially vulnerable people such as those with long-term health problems for whom complications can develop.

Ways to contain the virus include:

  • Washing hands frequently with soap and water
  • Cleaning all surfaces within the toilet / bathroom with a detergent followed by diluted disinfectant eg household bleach. Pay particular attention to toilet flushes, taps and door handles
  • Maintaining good personal hygiene and not sharing towels and flannels
  • Staying at home until symptoms disappear

Symptoms can last up to 72 hours but, if symptoms persist, call NHS 111 for advice.

Learn more about avoiding the winter vomiting bug.


Flu is another highly infectious virus which can also be particularly harmful to vulnerable people. The flu ‘season’ is typically from December to March.

To reduce the risk of spreading flu:

  • Wash your hands often with warm water and soap
  • Use tissues to trap germs when you cough or sneeze
  • Bin used tissues as quickly as possible

An NHS flu vaccine is available – Find out if you’re eligible for a free jab.

Alternatively a pharmacist can also give treatment advice and recommend flu remedies, although be careful not to use these if you’re taking paracetamol and ibuprofen tablets as it’s easy to take more than the recommended dose.

Learn more about how to avoid flu.

Free flu vaccinations for carers

Local GP practices are keen to encourage their patients with unpaid caring responsibilities to make themselves known to their doctor’s surgery, so that their own health needs can be prioritised too. The latest flu figures reveal that unpaid carers are not taking advantage of their free flu jab. To register as a carer at your local GP surgery, or to find your local GP to make an appointment, visit the NHS website.