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Top 5 tips to survive flu season

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Top 5 tips to survive flu season

(NC) With winter right around the corner, many of us are already anticipating the dreaded cold and flu season. But this time of year doesn’t have to mean a household full of runny noses, sore throats, achy muscles and fevers. Abbey Sharp, a registered dietician, shares her top tips to combat and survive this year’s flu season.

Find ways to minimize stress: Chronic stress wears you down, both emotionally and physically, leaving your body more susceptible to infection and disease. Make an effort to find some activities that help you unwind. Listening to a meditation app, doing yoga, laughing with friends or even just taking a bath may help clear your mind and lower those harmful stress hormone levels.

Exercise daily: You don’t need to be an athlete to reap the benefits of daily exercise. Exercise may help slow down the release of stress hormones, which in turn helps boost immune function over time. In fact, research has found that moderate exercise even helps to prevent the onset of the common cold. Aim to spend at least 30 minutes each day doing something active.

Increase zinc levels: Zinc is a mineral that helps your body stay healthy, not only strengthening your immune system but also promoting normal growth and development at all ages. For a delicious way to get your zinc, try Tetley Super Herbal Tea-Immune, which has lemon, echinacea and zinc. This tasty tea is high in zinc, containing 20 per cent of an adult’s recommended daily intake of zinc per cup. Get enough sleep: When deprived of quality shut-eye, your body experiences an increase in stress hormones, which starts to wear down your ability to fight off disease and infection. Skip the caffeine after noon, shut off all electronics before bed, keep your room as dark as possible and create a relaxing pre-bed routine to help you get seven to nine hours of sleep each night.

Keep good hygiene habits: Unless you plan to barricade indoors yourself this winter, it’s impossible to steer completely clear of germs. Your best defence is to wash your hands thoroughly and often using soap and hot water, scrubbing for at least 20 seconds. And don’t forget to be courteous — practice the “sleeve sneeze” to avoid transferring pathogenic germs onto your hands.

Flu season is upon us, and if you’re one of the one billion influenza cases that happen each year, you’re looking at a rough road to recovery. While most cases last seven to 10 days, the flu can last up to two full weeks for some.

Cindy Beckedam, a registered dietician at Loblaws, and Hans Epp, a pharmacist at Shoppers Drug Mart, share their tips for recovering from the flu.

Drink plenty of fluids: Fluids fuel your immune system by helping move important proteins around your body. We’re also losing a lot of them in the form of mucous or sweat when we have the flu. “While there are no hard and fast rules, do your best to get plenty of fluids whether they come in the form of tea, soup or plain old water,” says Beckedam.

Cancel your caffeine and alcohol consumption: Caffeine and alcohol are diuretics that may work against your efforts to stay hydrated. “Skipping a glass of beer or wine with dinner may make the job of staying hydrated a bit easier,” advises Epp.

Consume foods with the right vitamins and minerals: It takes a lot of work for our bodies to fight the flu, so getting the vitamins and minerals we need is a big part of recovery. Vitamin C, zinc and vitamin A help contribute to a good immune system and overall health, so foods that contain them are a good place to start.

Stay well rested: The flu takes a lot out of us, so getting plenty of rest will help with recovery. “Tired and sore muscles are your body’s way of telling you it’s a good idea to stay at home,” explains Epp. “Staying home and resting have the added benefit of curbing the spread of illness.”

Avoid the flu altogether: The flu shot is still your best way to help avoid the illness, so stop in at your closest Shoppers Drug Mart and get vaccinated today.



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Flu cases continue to rise:

Flu cases continue to rise: Seniors, children and the ill are at greater risk

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Flu cases continue to rise: Seniors, children and the ill are at greater risk

Flu cases continue to rise but survey reveals 61 per cent of Canadians not concerned about getting flu

Flu activity is in the higher range of expected levels for this time of year, but a recent national survey reveals 61 per cent of Canadians are not concerned about catching the flu and only 38 per cent got the flu vaccine.

“Surprising, millennials are the age group most concerned about catching the flu, but overall the survey results are concerning as they show many Canadians aren’t taking influenza seriously,” said pharmacist Sherry Torkos. “Flu can be very serious, even deadly, particularly for seniors, young children and individuals who are living with immune comprised conditions. Even young, healthy adults typically become sick for seven to 10 days and are susceptible to developing serious secondary infections such as bronchitis and pneumonia.”

Torkos says the number of Canadians who have adopted preventative measures are shockingly low and insufficient. The survey revealed:

  • 59 per cent are using frequent hand washing
  • 38 per cent got the flu vaccine
  • 31 per cent are taking vitamins or herbal supplements
  • 27 per cent are eating a healthier diet
  • 26 per cent are getting more sleep
  • 20 per cent haven’t taken any preventative measures

As the efficacy of this year’s flu vaccine is very low and antibiotics are ineffective for viral infections, adopting a comprehensive lifestyle approach, including rigorous hand washing, eating well, getting sufficient sleep and taking supplements is your best defence,” said Torkos. “When flu season is at its peak I recommend taking Echinacea, particularly Echinaforce, which has been clinically shown to help prevent and relieve the symptoms of upper respiratory tract infections such as the common cold and the flu.

For more information about the flu and how to prevent it, go to ontario.ca/page/flu-facts


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Get ready for cold and flu season

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Get ready for cold and flu season

(News Canada) — Influenza, or the flu, is a very contagious infection caused by viruses. We all know it can cause a mild to severe infection in the nose, sinuses, throat and lungs. But there are some misconceptions on what the flu is, how you can catch it and how to treat and prevent it. With the risk of infections increasing in the fall and peaking in the winter, The Lung Association shares some essential information on this seasonal headache.

It is estimated that between 10 to 20 per cent of Canadians are infected with the flu each year, causing 175,000 emergency room visits, 12,200 influenza-related hospitalizations and even 3,500 influenza-related deaths. That’s why now is a good time to consider how a simple shot could go a long way with your health. In Ontario alone, every year the flu shot eliminates approximately 30,000 visits to hospital emergency departments and prevents approximately 300 deaths.

For people aged 65 years and over, the risk for influenza-attributed death is 12 times greater among those with chronic lung diseases like asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and 20 times greater among those with both chronic heart and lung conditions.

After stroke and congestive heart failure, influenza and pneumonia (a complication of influenza) are the leading causes of catastrophic disability — a devastating illness or accident that can leave you requiring extra assistance that you didn’t need before. The flu shot is highly recommended for high-risk groups with the highest influenza rates, including children ages five to nine, adults 65 years and older, and those with underlying medical conditions. Different vaccination options are available for seniors. Here are common ways you can get infected with the flu virus, so you know what to avoid:

  • When someone infected with the flu talks, sneezes or coughs, tiny droplets of secretions become airborne. These droplets can land in your nose, mouth, sinuses or lungs and cause an infection.
  • Touching a surface that is infected with the flu virus (door handles, light switches, hand rails) and then touching your nose, mouth or eyes.
  • Sharing infected objects (utensils, cups) with someone who has the flu infection. Find more information online at lungontario.ca/vaccines. Coughing, fever, sweats, chills and feeling unwell are all symptoms of the flu. They should not be taken lightly.

Although flu infections can occur at any time throughout the year, the risk increases in the fall and peaks in the winter. Two or three strains make the rounds every year. Not only is the viral infection vicious, it can be lethal in otherwise healthy people. Experts say the best way to guard against the seasonal scourge and influenza-related pneumonia is to get the flu shot. But it isn’t a one-and-done deal. Influenza is cunning and constantly mutates, potentially dodging last year’s vaccine. That’s why anyone over six months old who lives, works or attends school in Ontario should get an up-todate shot each year.

The Lung Association especially recommends the flu vaccination for people who are at higher risk and those who have regular contact with people at higher risk. Those at higher risk from the flu include very young children, seniors, pregnant women, Indigenous peoples, residents of nursing homes and other chronic care facilities, and people with health conditions such as lung diseases.

Getting the flu vaccination also helps reduce the risk that you will spread the flu to others in your family and community who may be at a higher risk of serious complications. The more people who get the shot in your community, the less risk to everyone of getting the flu. This is called “herd immunity” or “community immunity.”

In individuals aged 65 and older, the immune system response to the flu vaccine is not as strong as it is in younger people. If you’re in that age group, you may get more benefit from the high-dose flu vaccination, which has four times the usual dose.


With flu season upon us, the question of whether to get vaccinated or not is one many people are trying to answer. Here, The Lung Association clears up some myths to help you make an informed decision.

  • Even if you had the flu shot once, you need it again. The viruses that cause the infection can change slightly each year, so the vaccine must also change to match them. A person’s immune protection from vaccination also declines over time.
  • There’s more than one flu shot available. Those 65 and older should speak with their healthcare provider to find out which vaccine is right for them, as this age group typically doesn’t respond to vaccines as well as younger adults.
  • Getting the flu shot will not give you the flu. The vaccine you receive either has an inactivated virus or does not contain one at all and therefore cannot give you the flu. If you develop influenza within two weeks of getting your shot, it is likely that you already had the virus prior to vaccination. It can also be a result of your body’s immune response to a foreign substance. However, the most common reactions to the vaccine itself are less severe than symptoms of the actual flu.
  • You need the shot even if you are healthy. If you’re 65 or older, your immune system is weakening naturally, making you more susceptible to the virus. If you’re younger than 65, getting the shot also helps protect more vulnerable populations like pregnant women and those with chronic illnesses from contracting the flu from you.
  • The flu shot is 50 to 60 per cent effective in preventing the flu in healthy adults. Although some people who get the vaccination may still get sick, the flu tends to be milder than if they didn’t, which reduces the risk of serious complications. Find out more information online at http://lungontario.ca/protect-your-breathing/vaccines/



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Tips to avoid catching a cold or the flu this fall

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Tips to avoid catching a cold or the flu this fall

(News Canada) — Ever wonder why you often get sick during the transition between fall and winter? Colds and flu are very contagious and can spread quickly and easily, especially as we move indoors and spend more time closer together. Here are some tips to help you stay healthy and fight cold and flu this fall:

Get vaccinated: The best thing you can do to prevent the flu is to get your flu vaccine every year. Flu viruses change from year to year and experts create a new vaccine to protect you each flu season. You cannot get the flu from the vaccine.

Hand washing: Washing your hands is the single most effective way to prevent the spread of infections. You can spread certain germs just by touching another person, and catch them when you touch contaminated objects or surfaces and then touch your face. Keep shared surfaces clean. Practice proper hand washing by using an adequate amount of plain soap, rubbing your hands together to create friction and rinsing under running water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand cleaner.

Sleep right: Have you ever gotten sick after a week or two of staying up late only to feel like you have yourself to blame? Sleeping well helps make us healthier and getting your seven to nine hours can do more for your health than you may realize. Sleeping the right amount keeps your immune system healthier, keeps stress levels down and helps your body repair itself.

De-stress: Long-term stress puts extra wear and tear on your body, dampening your immune system and diminishing your ability of fighting off illnesses. Studies show that a few simple behaviours can have amazing results in keeping your stress levels low. Unwinding with a hobby, exercising regularly and spending time with friends may help keep your stress levels in check.

Take antibiotics as directed by your healthcare provider: Remember that antibiotics are only effective in treating bacterial infections and not cold and flu viruses. Taking antibiotics for a cold or the flu won’t help you get better and can contribute to antibiotic resistance. You can also reduce the risks of antibiotic resistance by preventing infection or the spread of infection. Wash your hands often, keep your hands away from your eyes, nose and mouth, cough or sneeze into your sleeve, keep your vaccinations up to date and stay at home if you’re sick.

Find more information online at https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/flu-influenza.html?utm_source=canada-ca-flu-en&utm_medium=vurl&utm_campaign=flu


Starting your child on a new medication can worry almost any parent. That’s why it’s important to make sure you get all the information you need when you talk to your child’s healthcare provider.

Doctors and nurse practitioners make sure the medicines they prescribe to children are safe and effective. But as a parent, it’s important that you have all the details you need to keep on top of any medical issue.

Here are some useful questions to ask when your child is starting a new medication:

  • Why did you choose this medication for my child?
  • If this medication works, how will it help my child?
  • Will we need to adjust the dose?
  • How soon can we expect to see improvement in my child’s symptoms?
  • Are there possible side effects? If so, what are they?
  • How long should my child continue to take this medication?

While it’s natural to be concerned when your child is starting a new medication, you shouldn’t have to think about whether you can afford it. Starting January 1, 2018, Ontario will cover the cost of over 4,400 medications for all children and youth aged 24 and under.

Enrolment in OHIP+ will be automatic based on age. Prescriptions can be filled free of charge at any Ontario pharmacy – all that’s needed is a health card number. OHIP+ represents the biggest expansion of Medicare in Ontario in more than a generation.

For more information, visit https://www.ontario.ca/page/learn-about-ohip-plus



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