The flu virus is on the rise in the fall and winter. How can you prevent it from infecting your household?
Fall, winter—and the flu
The return of the winter season often means an increased risk of respiratory infections of all kinds. No one is immune to catching nasty germs, such as those causing colds, flu, COVID-19, tonsillitis, sinusitis, etc. Fortunately, there are some preventive measures that can help reduce the risk of getting these infections, especially those caused by a virus, including the flu.
The virus that causes the flu is called influenza. It spreads freely every year in Quebec and around the world. Flu season varies from year to year, but it generally lasts from late fall to spring. Thus, early fall is the ideal time to think about the strategies to fight this sworn enemy of health: the flu.
The flu: widely unknown risks
Seemingly innocuous, the flu is associated with serious complications and many deaths each year. It is important to distinguish between a mere cold and the flu. Although both are viral respiratory infections, they differ in the nature and severity of symptoms and complications.
The flu often includes rather intense symptoms: extreme fatigue and weakness, fever and chills, aches and pains, a feeling of general malaise, etc. Additionally, it can be complicated by other infections (bronchitis, pneumonia, sinusitis, otitis, etc.), sometimes requiring hospitalization. In the most serious cases, it can lead to death. This is why vaccination is recommended.
The flu shot: something to "really" think about
The best way to guard against the flu virus is to get a flu shot every year. Quebec has a vaccination program aimed at preventing serious complications and flu-associated deaths, especially for high-risk individuals and their loved ones. The flu shot is strongly recommended and free of charge for certain vulnerable groups. Vaccination should be seriously considered for all Quebecers over the age of six months, even those who travel to warmer countries during the winter.
It is possible to get a flu shot at the pharmacy. In fact, depending on your province, many Jean Coutu affiliated pharmacies offer the possibility of meeting with a nurse or pharmacist to have the flu shot administered on-site. Make an appointment.
Influenza is easily spread by inhaling contaminated droplets released in the air through sneezing, coughing, spitting or by direct contact with a contaminated part of the body or an object (e.g., handshake, doorknob). This is why we teach children to cough and sneeze in the crook of their arm and to wash their hands often.
Handwashing is a highly effective prevention measure against the flu. In the fall, speak to your family about the importance of washing their hands regularly. The use of a hand sanitizer can also help, especially when handwashing is not possible. Avoiding contact with people who are known to be infected with the virus is also important.
Quitting smoking: why not now?
Have you been thinking of quitting smoking for a long time, but have lacked the motivation and courage? Why not take advantage of the fall to take on the challenge? You'll have one more weapon in your anti-flu arsenal, because smoking weakens the immune system and makes you vulnerable to respiratory infections like the flu.
If you make this wise decision, your pharmacist can help you in many ways, including prescribing a smoking cessation aid if you meet certain criteria. If you succeed, you'll have some great news to share with your loved ones this holiday season!
When you have the flu, you don't have the energy to go to the pharmacy. Why not plan ahead? In preparation for flu season, ask your pharmacist which medications or essential items could help you if you get the flu (e.g., cough, fever or pain medication, or a thermometer). Keep them in your medicine cabinet.
Never take an over-the-counter medication without first speaking to a pharmacist.
A healthy lifestyle
To maintain your health and that of your immune system, follow this advice:
Speak to your pharmacist for additional information about the flu and the ways to prevent it.