November 14th, 2017

Reasons to get a Flu Shot

Alas, there are still lots of people who don’t get a flu shot every year which is something I simply don’t understand in large part because the potential downside seems to be so terrifically small.

So, unless someone one day clearly shows that getting a flu vaccine can impact your health negatively in an important way – like for example, making you more likely to get some type of flu in following flu seasons (this potential problem is being vigorously studied, by the way) – the positives that we do know from getting a flu shot every year have won the day in a large way.

Why do I say that?

For a start, the flu can be a severe infection with huge potential complications such as pneumonia and death so it’s important to remind flu-shot doubters that every year the flu kills thousands of North Americans, usually the very young, the very old, and those with diminished immunity or who have certain chronic illnesses, but some seasons flu also kills the healthy and vigorous in large numbers.

And then there’s this key reason: Herd immunity, meaning that the more people who are immunized against the flu, the more protection the vulnerable have against the flu.

And finally, every year, we learn more advantages from an annual flu vaccine, such as this recent study presented at the Pediatric Academic Societies Meeting in San Francisco which found that even though the overall flu vaccine effectiveness was only 52 % in the recent flu season, young kids who got a flu vaccine had half the rate of being hospitalized with flu-related illness compared to kids who didn’t get a flu shot.

This fall, do yourself – and the rest of us – a favour and get a flu shot.

And try to convince those around you to get one too.



January 19th, 2017

How to Know When You’re Too Sick to Work

 

how to know if too sick to work

If you’re like many Canadians, you or someone you know felt icky, yucky, or downright gross over the holidays. An early start to cold and flu season caught us off guard, allowing illness to spread at parties and festive gatherings.

On a positive note, the holidays are ideal for getting needed rest. But, if you become sick during the traditional danger zone from January to March, deciding what to do can be much more difficult.

So, should you tough it out at work or stay home?

The answer depends on many personal variables, of course. But here are a few things to keep in mind that might help you decide (don’t forget: a lot of sick days can be avoided if you simply get the annual flu shot).

When To Go In:

If you have a mild sniffle or slight cough, it’s usually okay to head to work. Just be sure to let your coworkers know you aren’t feeling 100%. That way, they won’t be surprised if you refuse a handshake, avoid a social function, or choose to eat alone.

While at work, wash your hands often, disinfect them regularly, and use disinfectant wipes several times per day to clean your workstation. You don’t want to risk being known as ‘patient zero’ at the office this year. And be sure you have some tissues on hand, too. Ah-choo!

When To Stay Home:

If you feel worse than somewhat under the weather, it’s a good idea to stay home for at least a day if you can. This includes if you’ve suffered from moderate symptoms persisting for more than a few days. There are also a few red flag symptoms to watch out for.

If you have any of these symptoms, you’re better off staying home if you can:

1. Fever: Running a fever of over 37.5°C (100°F) is the number one sign you should stay home from work. It’s likely you have the flu and the next 36-48 hours will be pretty tough. You can get ahead of the game by jumping into bed straight away. But see a doctor if your fever rises over 39.5°C (103°F), persists for over 24 hours, or is accompanied by severe sweating or chills.

You should also remain home from work at least one extra full day after your fever breaks. Feeling rejuvenated? This can be a great opportunity to work from home.

2. Sore Throat: Ahead of other traditional cold symptoms, a sore throat is a red flag that you should consider staying home. To start, if your job involves speaking (and most do), this will be uncomfortable and could prolong your symptoms. More importantly, a sore throat is a potential symptom of laryngitis, mononucleosis, strep throat, or tonsillitis.

Take the day off to monitor and treat your symptoms. If your throat feels no better by the afternoon, and soothing teas or cough drops don’t seem to help, consider heading to a nearby clinic.

3. Coloured Mucus: To be completely clear (no pun intended), if you’re coughing up considerable amounts of phlegm, no matter the colour, you should consider staying at home if you can. In addition to several other very good reasons, nobody wants to hear all that ruckus at work.

That said, keep a close eye on the colour. If your mucus is distinctly green or yellow, it could be a sign of infection. At the very least, it shows your body is fighting off something nasty.

Final Thoughts…

  1. The old tale that you aren’t contagious when your symptoms are at their worst is pure malarkey. But the surprise for some is that you’re actually contagious with either cold or flu for up to a week after symptoms disappear.
  2. If your child is sick, especially if they show a red flag symptom, consider keeping them home from school. If they’re very young and you can’t find someone to be home with them, consider taking the day off work, if possible. Their teachers, classmates, and your fellow parents will thank you.

***

Want more advice on when to go to work and when to stay home?

Check out this LD Expert video of Pharmacist Gianni Del Negro on Global News with Sonia Sunger.

Here are a few of the helpful cold and flu-related health products discussed in the video, available at London Drugs in-store and online:

Note: Please consult your pharmacist before taking any cold or flu treatments.


Antiviral Mask:
 If you’ve never tried one of these before, you might feel slightly self-conscious wearing what appears like a surgeon’s scrubs from the neck up. But you’ll be glad if it helps you avoid catching or spreading a cold this year. These masks are especially great to wear in large crowds or shared public spaces, such as transit, stores, or airports.

LD Expert says: “If you are concerned about getting sick or you want to prevent someone else from getting sick, you can put a mask on to prevent those droplets from going into the air.”


Saline Nasal Rinse:
Again, some might feel unsure about using one of these products for the first time. “The water goes where!?,” they ‘ll say. But many of those who have tried a neti pot for themselves absolutely swear by the results. It involves rinsing out your nasal cavity with what is essentially warm, salty water and it can make all the difference when you’re stuffed up.

LD Expert Says: “If you’re really congested, it’s hard to breathe and you’re not going to get a good night’s sleep. Using a saline product like a neti pot helps relieve some of that congestion and makes it easier for you to breathe and function.”

Cough, Cold, and Flu Relief: There are a wide variety of off-the-shelf treatments for cold and flu symptoms. They feature numerous active ingredients and can be taken in many different ways, including everything from pills to fruit chews. But know that none offer a true cure or a proper substitute for needed bed rest. Still, they can make you feel a bit better in the meantime.

LD Expert Says: “The old stand-bys in terms of helping with cough, nasal congestion, those sorts of symptoms. Keep in mind it’s really important that you do talk to your pharmacist about these products before you use them.”

 



January 18th, 2016

LD Picks: What You Need to Know About Colds and Flu

Contrary to popular belief, it’s not too late to get your flu shot – there’s still time to benefit from the vaccine and help prevent the spread of the flu. Here is some super-important information about the flu that you need to know.

* * *

How to Know If It’s the Flu

cold-flu

First are two important facts: 1) Flu symptoms can appear 1–4 days after becoming infected. 2) You can infect others for 5–7 days after onset of symptoms.

Symptoms include

  • Fever of 38 C or higher that starts suddenly
  • A dry cough that can last for weeks
  • Headache
  • An aching body, especially in the lower back and legs
  • Feeling very weak and tired

Other symptoms can include

  • Chills
  • Loss of appetite
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Some people may have nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea

READ MORE



September 18th, 2015

Here’s How to Prevent Colds & Flu

washing-hands

 

The Best Prevention
The very best way to prevent colds and flu is to wash your hands often and teach your children to do the same. You should wash your hands before and after shopping trips (most supermarkets and drug stores now provide gel dispensers or wipes for this purpose), and always before eating/preparing food and after blowing your nose, or wiping your child’s. Here are a few more pointers:

  • Remember to wash your hands after touching elevator buttons, keypads, public phones, doorknobs and stair rails.
  • Avoid handshakes whenever possible, and go wash your hands afterwards if you do greet someone this way. (Meet-and-greet events, cocktail parties and similar gatherings where food is offered are prime environments for viruses to spread.)
  • If someone coughs or sneezes near you, move quickly away and/or cover your nose and mouth. If you have a cough or cold, be sure to use a tissue or sneeze into the crook of your arm.
  • For adults and children over 12 years of age, consider taking an immune-supporting supplement like non-drowsy COLD-FX® or COLD-FX® Extra Capsules.COLD-FX® may be taken preventatively as well as to reduce the duration of a cold.
  • Be sure to attend to the basics of good health and a strong immune system: get a minimum seven hours of sleep nightly, be physically active every day, and eat lots of healthy fruits and vegetables, low-fat protein and whole grains.

Although there are no guaranteed ways to prevent catching a cold, with a strong prevention strategy, you increase your chances of staying healthy throughout the winter months.

 

(This article was previously published in October 2011.)



October 8th, 2014

London Drugs’ Flu Season Survival Guide

Pharmacists say being Proactive and Prepared is the key to Flu Season Survival

Taking simple, yet highly effective, steps to preventing influenza (flu) can prevent a trip to a busy hospital emergency room during the upcoming flu season. Influenza can be very serious for those who have health vulnerabilities such as senior citizens, pregnant women, or people with chronic health conditions. Influenza causes about 20,000 people to get admitted to the hospital and about 4,000 deaths in Canada each year.[1]

London Drugs is joining health agencies across Western Canada to ensure Canadians are prepared to combat the seasonal flu, which can help free up emergency room space for emergency situations.

“Being proactive and prepared is the key to surviving the flu season,” said Gail Rowan, Pharmacy Operations Manager for London Drugs. “By getting the influenza vaccination early in the season, as well as taking some simple and healthy preventative actions, you not only protect yourself, but you protect others because you are less likely to spread the flu.”

Knowing the difference between a common cold and the flu is as important as being proactive and getting the flu shot early.

READ MORE



October 15th, 2013

Debunking flu shot myths: London Drugs pharmacists set the record straight

The misconceptions and rumours about flu shots are as hard to contain and as hard to fight as the virus itself. As the cold and flu season fast approaches, London Drugs
pharmacists set the record straight on popular flu shot myths.

MYTH #1: Young, healthy people don’t need the flu shot.

The Public Health Agency of Canada recommends the flu shot for everyone over the age of six months since some of the most serious flu viruses can even pose a risk to young, healthy people. Plus, the virus could spread to children or the elderly, who can have a much tougher time recovering.

Many people consider the flu to just be a very bad cold. However, a cold usually only consists of cough and congestion, while the flu also includes body aches and fever. Along with these added symptoms, the flu can also carry more serious implications: the seasonal flu hospitalizes 20,000 people in Canada each year, and it kills between 2,000 and 8,000 people.

MYTH #2: The flu shot can give you the flu.

London Drugs Certified Injection Pharmacist, Pindy Janda, explains that “injectable flu vaccines do not contain any live virus so they cannot cause the flu.” People often mistake side effects of the vaccine for the flu itself, or get an unrelated cold that they believe is the flu. In both these cases, the flu vaccine itself is falsely blamed.

MYTH #3: You can skip years between flu shots.

Flu viruses are constantly changing. So each year, the flu shot is updated to provide protection against the most active virus expected in the coming flu season. People must receive a flu shot every year in order to stay protected.

MYTH #4: You have to go to a doctor’s office or wait in line at a provincial flu clinic to receive a vaccination.

Many people are still unaware that they can receive the flu vaccination from a Certified Injection Pharmacist. London Drugs flu clinics are held throughout Alberta and British Columbia during October and November. Patients can book an appointment to receive the vaccination by calling the London Drugs pharmacy directly.



October 21st, 2011

Preventing Colds & Flu

As soon as children return to school, colds and other ‘back to school’ ills begin in earnest, quickly spreading to parents and older siblings, through workplaces and other communities.

The tendency to gather indoors during the colder months hastens the spread of viruses, culminating in the dreaded ‘flu season’ at the end of the year…

Although it’s hard to think of cold prevention during those warm September days that mark the end of summer, this is the time of year we need to get started on our prevention strategy for winter ills.

“Every year like clockwork, two weeks after kids go back to class, the cough and cold season starts with a bang,” says Dr. Alan Kaplan, Chairperson of the Family Physician Airways Group of Canada (FPAGC) and executive member of of the International Primary Care Respiratory Group (IPCRG).

“It’s no surprise that respiratory infections spike when people suddenly change their routines, diets and sleeping patterns – which makes them more susceptible to infection – and then gather together in small rooms for hours on end,” Dr. Kaplan explains. He references a research project on hygiene in schools, led by Dr. Charles Gerba, a professor of environmental microbiology, which found that 50% of the classroom surfaces examined were hosting some sort of virus.

“With those kinds of opportunities for transmission, it’s no wonder that, on average, 200,000 schooldays are missed because of illness in Canada every month,” says Dr. Kaplan.

How Viruses Spread
Of course, it’s not just young children who become sick shortly after school starts (although the closeness of little ones, and sharing behaviors – especially with food and drink – tend to get the viral ball rolling). Students of all ages bring home germs they’ve picked up in school, to share with their families. Family members then go on to share them with friends, coworkers and other members of their various communities.

“People infected with rhinovirus or influenza are contagious starting about 12 hours before they even start to feel any symptoms, making it very difficult to prevent spreading those viruses around,” says Dr. Kaplan.

The Best Prevention
The very best way to prevent colds and flu is to wash your hands often and teach your children to do the same. You should wash your hands before and after shopping trips (most supermarkets and drug stores now provide gel dispensers or wipes for this purpose), and always before eating/preparing food and after blowing your nose, or wiping your child’s. You can purchase hand santizers at London Drugs. Here are a few more pointers:

  • Remember to wash your hands after touching elevator buttons, keypads, public phones, doorknobs and stair rails.
  • Avoid handshakes whenever possible, and go wash your hands afterwards if you do greet someone this way. (Meet-and-greet events, cocktail parties and similar gatherings where food is offered are prime environments for viruses to spread.)
  • If someone coughs or sneezes near you, move quickly away and/or cover your nose and mouth. If you have a cough or cold, be sure to use a tissue or sneeze into the crook of your arm.
  • For adults and children over 12 years of age, consider taking an immune-supporting supplement like non-drowsy COLD-FX® or COLD-FX® Extra Capsules.COLD-FX® may be taken preventatively as well as to reduce the duration of a cold.
  • Be sure to attend to the basics of good health and a strong immune system: get a minimum seven hours of sleep nightly, be physically active every day, and eat lots of healthy fruits and vegetables, low-fat protein and whole grains.

Although there are no guaranteed ways to prevent catching a cold, with a strong prevention strategy, you increase your chances of staying healthy throughout the winter months.



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