Did you know that every year up to 7 million Canadians get the flu? The Canadian flu season typically starts in November and can last until March or April. If you are like any other parent, you want to do everything you can to ensure your children, spouse and yourself avoid getting the flu. While healthy adults can fight off the flu and recover from it usually within a week, the flu can actually be life-threatening to young children and the elderly, making it imperative that we take steps to prevent the spread of this viral infection. One of the keys to preventing the flu is to be proactive. In this article, we’ll look at how you can do this by knowing the signs, symptoms, and cures for overcoming the flu.
“Anyone can get the flu (even healthy people), and serious problems related to the flu can happen at any age, but some people are at high risk of developing serious flu-related complications if they get sick. This includes people 65 years and older, people of any age with certain chronic medical conditions (such as asthma, diabetes, or heart disease), pregnant women, and young children,” says the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
What Are the Odds That I Will Get the Flu?
Stats compiled the Public Health Agency of Canada provide some insight into how common the flu is:
- 7 million Canadians get the flu every year
- 20% of the population, on average, gets the flu each year
- Over 7,700 Canadians were hospitalized during the 2014-2015 flu season
- 591 Canadians died due to flu-related symptoms during the 2014-2015 flu season
Here are some additional things that all people should know about the flu:
- It can take up to 4 days for symptoms to appear once you get the virus
- Peak flu season is December to February
- Children can start receiving the flu shot at 6 months
- The flu is spread through direct contact or indirect contact (by touching contaminated surfaces)
- There are multiple versions of the flu – each one with its own set of symptoms. Types of the flu include seasonal, avian, swine, and pandemic.
What Are the Common Symptoms of the Flu?
Here are the common symptoms of the flu:
- Fever/ chills
- Cough and sore throat
- Fatigue and muscle aches and soreness
- Nausea and vomiting
If you have these symptoms and they persist, make an appointment to see your doctor.
The CDC also outlines a number of emergency warning signs of the flu in children and infants:
Flu Symptoms in Children
- Fast breathing or trouble breathing
- Bluish skin color
- Not drinking enough fluids
- Not waking up or not interacting
- Being so irritable that the child does not want to be held
- Flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough
- Fever with a rash
Flu Symptoms In Infants
- Being unable to eat
- Has trouble breathing
- No tears when crying
- Significantly fewer wet diapers than normal
If infants show any of these signs, get medical attention immediately.
How to Prevent the Flu
Being proactive with flu prevention is the key to reducing your odds of getting the flu. Here is what you can do to prevent the flu:
This is easier said than done, especially for parents with children who have come down with the flu. It is also difficult because it can take a number of days for infected people to show signs of the virus.
Wash your hands
And wash them frequently. Use plenty of soap and warm water. Make sure to wash them each time you the washroom and come into contact with surfaces in public.
Be diligent with cleaning
Put an extra effort into cleaning surfaces that are commonly touched such as doorknobs, light switches, countertops, and electronics such as cell phones and computer keyboards.
Watch your hands
Do your best to keep your hands away from your eyes, nose, and mouth. This will help prevent germs from getting into your body.
Make sure to cover your mouth and nose when sneezing or coughing.
Stay home if you are sick
Don’t become part of the problem. Stay home and limit your interaction with others so you do not spread the flu to others.
Get the flu shot
The flu shot is one of the most effective methods for preventing the flu. Talk with your doctor to learn more about the benefits of getting a flu shot.
Teach the kids
Educating your kids about flu prevention will help them avoid the flu, and it will also reduce the odds that someone in your family contracts the virus.
What If I Get the Flu?
If you do contract the flu, it’s important to:
- Stay home and remain at home until you are better
- Get plenty of rest
- Drink plenty of fluids
- If you have severe symptoms or are considered high risk, see your doctor
- Take prescribed medication (if applicable)
No one wants to get the flu, but it happens. The good news is that you can reduce the odds of contracting the flu by being proactive and taking preventive steps, and by getting the flu shot. If everyone does their part, collectively we can reduce the number of people who fall ill each year.
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