How to avoid contaminating others with the flu.

The flu virus affects nearly one out of four people per year in Canada. Even if certain people are more likely to suffer from the effects of the infection than others, anyone can catch the virus. Therefore, it is important to remember what to do to prevent spreading it.

A cold or the flu?

We frequently hear people say that they have the flu, but is it really the case? Several people confuse the symptoms of a cold with those of the flu, yet, these two conditions are different in several respects. If you:

  • are congested;
  • have a runny nose;
  • are sneezing;
  • have a sore throat;
  • etc.

…you are most likely suffering from a cold and not the flu. A cold lasts about 7 to 10 days.

The flu, which is caused by a specific virus called influenza, not only attacks the respiratory tract, but causes other symptoms that can sometimes be serious and that stop you from functioning normally. These symptoms include:

  • shivering;
  • headaches;
  • muscle aches and pains;
  • fever;
  • fatigue;
  • etc.

The complications caused by the flu can sometimes be serious, leading to hospitalization and in extreme cases, death. Certain people are more vulnerable to complications of the flu, such as to pneumonia. For example, this is the case for young children, the elderly and for people with a weakened immune system.

How to protect yourself

The influenza virus is highly contagious. It is easily transmitted from one person to another by tiny invisible droplets present in the air when we cough. The best way to protect ourselves from the flu is to avoid contamination. Fortunately, there are things we can do on a daily basis to greatly reduce spreading the flu virus.

  • Wash your hands often. This may seem repetitious, but washing hands frequently and vigorously still remains the best way to prevent spreading viruses such as the flu. Encourage people around you to wash their hands and teach your children how to do so properly. If there is no soap available, use antibacterial liquid containing at least 60% alcohol.
  • Avoid contact. If you think you may have the flu, keep your distance. Avoid kisses, hugs and proximity with others. Inform those around you about your condition. Remember that the nose, eyes and mouth are the ports of entry for viruses into the body. This is why it is important to avoid touching them unnecessarily.
  • Be careful about sharing objects, as some of them may be contaminated such as a glass, utensils or lip balms. If a child is carrying the virus, pay special attention to toys, especially if he/              she is in contact with other children, such as at a daycare.
  • Also avoid sharing secretions. Cough and sneeze into a disposable tissue or in the crook of your elbow. If you are sick, wear a mask or even better, stay at home comfortably wrapped up in your blankets. In addition to limiting the spread of the virus, resting will help you fight the infection more effectively.

Keep in mind that adopting a healthy lifestyle can contribute to preventing contamination by the flu virus and limit its consequences. Eating well, drinking a lot of water, getting enough sleep, doing physical exercise and avoiding smoking, all contribute to your general health and immune system. Talk to your pharmacist about what you can do to stay healthy during the winter and to protect you against the most common infections.

The flu shot… your best ally

The best way to protect yourself from the flu virus is to get a flu shot. A new vaccine is available every year and it does not contain any live viruses.

Regarded as effective and safe, the flu shot can be considered by everyone, but authorities recommend it especially for specific groups of individuals who are more at risk. Your pharmacist can give you more information on the matter, as well as the benefits of the flu shot so you can make an informed decision about it for yourself and for your family. Your pharmacist can also suggest an immunization clinic.

It is up to you to take the necessary measures to avoid catching the flu, and especially, to prevent spreading it to the people around you if you have it… especially to your loved ones!

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How to avoid contaminating others with the flu.

The flu virus affects nearly one out of four people per year in Canada. Even if certain people are more likely to suffer from the effects of the infection than others, anyone can catch the virus. Therefore, it is important to remember what to do to prevent spreading it.
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