October – Cold & Flu
Beat the Flu Before it Beats You
It seems to happen to you every year. You’re in the middle of working on a project, your boss appreciates your dedication, you’ve got a couple of great parties coming up – and then you get hit what seems like symptoms of the flu! “Not now!” you cry, as fever, body aches, cough, and fatigue begin to set in.
This year, don’t let the flu beat you. Come up with a plan to prevent it. These steps may seem obvious, but people sometimes forget to take them. This year, make sure you do!
Identify potential flu zones. Is that co-worker of yours sniffling more than usual? Is the person seated next to you on the bus coughing and not covering their mouth? Think of the places that may spread the flu – crowded areas come to mind – and simply stay away.
Defend yourself! It’s not always possible to stay away from people who are obviously sick. And because people can be contagious with the flu even before they show symptoms, you may get infected even if you’re near someone who doesn’t look sick. So what’s your best bet? Defence!
- Ask your health care provider about getting the flu shot. The flu shot is the single best way to prevent the flu.
- Wash your hands frequently with soap and water. Count to 20 when washing your hands. And if soap and water aren’t handy, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Resist touching your face – the flu virus can enter the body through the eyes, nose, or mouth via your hands (which can carry the virus if you touch a contaminated surface).
- Regularly clean and disinfect common surface areas. At work, keep your desk, phone, and doorknob clean, especially if other people stop by often. If you have lent your pen or other supplies to someone, clean them before putting them back in their place.
Watch out for symptoms. Symptoms of flu include sudden onset of fever, sudden onset of cough, fatigue, sore throat, muscle or body aches, headache, runny nose, and loss of appetite. Some people even experience diarrhea, nausea, or vomiting.
- Be on the lookout for these symptoms, and get yourself home as soon as you notice them, especially if you know you’re likely to have the flu because you’ve been in contact with someone with the flu.
- Consider talking to your doctor for treatment options. Seeing a doctor is especially important if you are at a higher risk of complications related to the flu (such as pneumonia or bronchitis). If you belong to a high-risk group, your doctor may prescribe antiviral mediation. People at high risk include people with existing medical conditions (e.g., asthma, diabetes, heart disease), pregnant women, and people who are very obese.
If you’ve done all you can but still end up getting the flu, don’t be a hero. Call in sick so that you don’t spread the flu to others in your office and so you give your body time to rest and recover. If you live with other people, stay away from them and ask your doctor about ways to help prevent the flu infection if someone in the house is infected with the flu.
Ask Your Pharmacist
Q: I got the flu shot last year, do I still need to get one this year?
A: Yes, it’s important to get the flu shot every year and Health Canada recommends that all Canadians over 6 months of age get a flu shot annually. New flu vaccines are released every year to keep up with rapidly adapting flu viruses and, without an annual flu shot, your symptoms could be much worse. It can take around two weeks after getting the flu shot for it to start strengthening your immune system, so you should get your flu shot as early in the flu season as possible.
Speak to your Pharmasave pharmacist today to see how you can get your flu shot.
One way to boost your immune system is by decreasing your stress levels to help keep your immune system at its best, especially during cold and flu season. When you are stressed out, your body is on overdrive and it can bring your immune system down, which will put you at a higher risk of catching a cold or the flu. Getting enough sleep, eating a balanced and nutritious diet and avoiding cigarettes or alcohol can help prepare your body to manage stress. Don’t forget to get some physical activity or do some relaxing activities such as yoga or meditation.
Speak to your Pharmasave pharmacist if you have any questions about coping with stress.
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