Flu shot helps us stay healthy and active

Dec 14th, 2017 | By | Category: Featured, Healthy Living

(NC) As the weather gets colder, people make certain changes — dressing warmer, drinking hot beverages and staying healthy by getting the flu shot.

Getting the flu shot boosts your defense against the illness. Before each flu season, a vaccine is developed to protect against the most common, expected flu viruses. That’s why it’s important to get vaccinated every year.

Unfortunately, older adults have a harder time fighting off the flu. This is especially true if they have chronic health issues, such as heart or lung disease, which increases the risk for complications. Getting the flu shot is your best defence against the flu and the serious complications that can come with it.

In addition to getting the flu shot, there are things you can do every day to protect yourself:

• Clean your hands often with soap and water, or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

• Cough and sneeze into a tissue or your sleeve –  not your hand.

• Clean and disinfect surfaces often, such as countertops, telephones and keyboards –  flu viruses can live on surfaces for up to eight hours.

“Protecting yourself from the flu by getting vaccinated also protects the people around you,” explains Dr. Eric Hoskins, Ontario’s Minister of Health and Long-Term Care. “Fortunately, getting the flu shot in Ontario is not only free but also convenient. Your health care provider, local public health unit or participating pharmacy can help.”

Symptoms offer clues in telling colds and flus apart

We’ve all heard someone mention that they have a touch of the flu. But was it the flu, or was it a really bad cold?

It can be difficult to tell them apart as symptoms can be very similar. While the common cold can make you feel really sick, the flu can lead to serious health problems like pneumonia.

Here’s some information on how symptoms may present differently in a cold versus the flu:

Fever. Rare in a cold, but quite common with the flu. It usually starts suddenly and can last up to three or four days.

General aches and pains. You can experience these with a cold, but they are typically mild. With the flu, aches and pains are very common and often severe — they have been described as feeling like you’ve been run over by a truck.

Feeling tired and weak. If you have a cold, you can sometimes feel tired and weak, but the feeling will often be quite mild. However, that feeling is very common with the flu, and this can last two to three weeks or even more.

Fatigue. It is very unusual to experience extreme tiredness with a cold, so if you have this symptom it’s a good sign that you may have the flu. It is quite common to feel extremely tired with the flu and this usually starts early.

Sneezing. While sneezing happens often with a cold, you are likely to only sneeze sometimes when you have the flu.

Chest discomfort and/or coughing. You can on occasion experience mild-to-moderate chest discomfort and/or coughing with a cold –  but it can be severe with the flu.

If you think it’s the flu, stay home and get plenty of rest. Call your doctor or nurse practitioner if you don’t start to feel better after a few days, or if you feel worse.

Anyone who is in a high-risk group such as seniors, children under five, pregnant women and individuals with underlying health conditions such as asthma should contact their primary health care provider as soon as they experience any of the above flu symptoms.

Find more information online at ontario.ca/flu.

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