Flu prevention

Suburbs

Did you know there is an average of 20,000 flu-related hospitalizations and 4,000 deaths in Canada from the flu each year?

The flu is a viral respiratory infection caused by the influenza virus. Flu season strikes from October to April. Most people will recover from influenza within a week or 10 days. But for adults aged 65 and older, and adults and children with chronic conditions like diabetes and cancer there is a greater risk of developing more severe complications, like pneumonia which can be life threatening. 

Protect yourself and our community by learning about symptoms, prevention, recovery and the flu shot.

Symptoms 
Know what to look for. Educate yourself on the symptoms of the flu: 
  • Headache
  • Chills
  • Burning sensation in your chest
  • Cough

Followed by:

  • Fever
  • Loss of appetite 
  • Muscle aches, especially in your back and legs
  • Fatigue
  • Runny nose - often including yellow, green or brown discharge
  • Sneezing
  • Watery eyes
  • Throat irritation
  • Nausea, vomiting and diarrhea may also occur, especially in children
Recovery

If you do contract the flu, you can help speed along your recovery by following these tips: 

  • Avoid exerting yourself. Set aside work, your fitness routine and any stress that comes along while you're recovering. You can get back to your daily activities one to two days after your temperature returns to normal.

  • Drink plenty of fluids. Six to eight classes a day. Try drinking hot fluids to help with nasal and chest congestion.

  • Humidify the air using a vaporizer (either cool mist or hot mist). This will help relive a sore throat and dry cough.

  • Get lots of rest. Fatigue can increase the duration of symptoms. Staying in bed will also avoid spreading the infection to others.

  • Use saline drops or spray to loosen nasal congestion and petrolatum jelly products to soothe raw skin around your nose.

  • Use non-medicated throat lozenges to sooth a sore throat or cough.

  • Gargle with salt water to relieve a dry throat.

  • Take ibuprofen or acetaminophen to fight a fever.

Prevention

The best way you can prevent getting the flu is by practicing these good hygiene tips.

  • Live well. Eat a balanced diet; get a good night's sleep and exercise regularly.

  • Wash your hands frequently, for at least 20 seconds, using soap and warm water.

  • Avoid coughing or sneezing into your hand. Use your elbow, sleeve or a tissue. If you are sneezing or coughing get rid of the used tissue immediately. 

  • Avoid toughing your eyes, mouth and nose.

  • Clean hard surfaced with a disinfectant, influenza can survive on surfaces for eight to 48 hours.

  • Use alcohol-based hand sanitizer, only if soap and warm water aren't available.

  • Stay home if you're sick.

The flu shot

The flu shot is more than 80 percent effective in preventing the flu in healthy adults. Never had the flu shot before? Check out these facts:

  • It takes about two weeks for a flu shot's protection to kick in.
  • Side effects from getting the flu shot, other than slight arm pain, are extremely rare.
  • Immunity from a flu shot lasts less than one year so it is important to get the flu shot annually. 
  • Though it's best to get the flu shot early in the full season (October or November), getting it later is better than not getting it at all.

For more information on influenza, as well as a schedule of upcoming flu-shot clinics in Kitchener, visit the Region of Waterloo Public Health website.

For more information on the flu shot visit www.gettheflushot.ca  

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