It's that time of year when doctors want their patients to get their yearly flu shot but that's not on the mind of 2 out of 5 Canadians.
According to a survey commissioned by Shoppers Drug Mart, while many Canadians are concerned about getting sick only 40 percent plan ahead.
Each year 3.4 to 8.5 million Canadians come down with seasonal flu. For the elderly, children and others most susceptible to illness that illness can be deadly.
"Preparation is key to weathering the cold and flu season in Canada," says Akeel Jaffer, Shoppers Drug Mart pharmacist, Toronto, Ontario. "Cold and especially seasonal flu can be very serious, and in some cases, quite debilitating. So, as the season unfolds, it's important that families do what they can to be prepared and prevent illness."
The current flu vaccine protects not only against seasonal flu but H1N1 as well.
Getting the flu vaccine is just one way to prepare for the season; cleaning your medicine cabinet is another. According to research over half of Canadian homes don't check expiry dates on medicine until they are in need. For some medicines taking after the expiry date is dangerous. Place expired medications in a bag and take them to a local Shoppers Drug Mart pharmacy to have them disposed of safely.
Your medicine cabinet should include alcohol-based hand sanitizer, vitamins D and C, a thermometer, fever and pain relievers, cough syrup and cold and flu medicine (day and night). Some over the counter medications could interact with prescription medications and may not be appropriate for people with certain health conditions such as high blood pressure. Remember that most cough, cold and flu products should not be used in children under the age of six. Talking with your local pharmacist about your family's needs is important.
Knowing the difference between the common cold and seasonal flu can be confusing. The flu is more likely to come out of left field and hit you hard while a cold can take a few days to develop. Seasonal flu can cause weakness, tiredness and fever as high as 40°C. Aches and pains in muscles and joints, chills, a severe headache and sore throat are also common flu symptoms.
Shopper's Drug Mart suggests to avoid colds and flu to avoid touching the mouth or nose and cough or sneeze into an arm or a tissue, rather than the hand. Wash hands frequently or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer to keep hands clean. Also, whenever possible, try to minimize time spent in crowded settings.