With a handful of flu cases already reported this year, pharmacists are advising patients to take preventative measures to avoid getting sick.
All London Drugs pharmacies will be offering this year’s flu vaccine but in addition to getting a flu shot, Pharmacists offer the following advice to help you reduce your chances of getting sick.
- Wash your hands: Although it’s met with groans from both kids and adults, frequent handwashing is first and foremost in cold and flu prevention. The viruses that cause winter ills can be picked up everywhere and washing your hands goes a long way.
- Keep your hands away from your face: Touching your face when your hands have picked up a virus will put that virus in touch with the mucous membranes of your mouth, nose or eyes—a surefire way to become sick fast.
- Avoid handshakes: Although sometimes unavoidable, shaking hands and then rubbing your nose or eyes, handling a glass, or eating finger-food is an effective way to catch something. If etiquette demands you greet someone this way, excuse yourself at the earliest opportunity to wash your hands or use a hand sanitizer.
- Beware of keypads: They are everywhere— at the ATM, a restaurant, the elevator, and virtually every retail establishment. Public computers found in schools and libraries are also a hazard during cold and flu outbreaks. Influenza is a highly contagious viral infection that is transmitted by airborne droplets that can survive up to 48 hours outside the body on other surfaces. So, once again, sanitize your hands as frequently as possible and avoid touching your face after using a public key pad.
- Use paper towel: Viruses can remain alive for several hours on fabric so when someone in your home or office is sick, replace hand towels with disposable paper towel. If you don’t like the idea of paper towels, make sure everyone has, and uses, their own cloth towel. When using public washrooms, use a paper towel to cover the door handle when you exit.
Common symptoms of the flu include: a sudden, high fever (38 to 40 degrees C); headache, extreme fatigue, chills and sweating; dry cough; loss of appetite; muscle aches and pains; runny and stuffy nose, sneezing and sore throat.
Here is some advice for anyone already experiencing these symptoms:
- Talk to your Pharmacist to get the right medication: Pharmacists are available to provide advice about over-the-counter medications to manage symptoms. They can recommend the best medications for each person in the family to suite their individual symptoms. Other medicine cabinet essentials, including zinc lozenges and vitamin C tablets should be on-hand as well. Zinc lozenges will not only soothe the throat but combat viruses like the flu, and vitamin C taken daily will also help to decrease the duration and severity of a cold once it hits. A thermometer should be at home too, to monitor fevers.
- Heed sneeze etiquette: To prevent others from becoming infected. If you need to sneeze in a public place, and you don’t have a tissue to sneeze into, turn your head into your elbow. This will ensure virus-laden water droplets won’t spread far and wide.
- Relax and sleep: Stress suppresses the immune system and makes you more likely to catch whatever is going around. So try to relax and take some peaceful time for yourself. Since the immune system repairs itself during sleep, be sure to get extra shut-eye during cold and flu season.
- Eat well: Fruits, vegetables and whole grains contain phytonutrients that help you fight viruses by building up your immune response. Proteins too are needed to galvanize the immune system, so make sure you consume low-fat healthy protein with every meal. Drink plenty of fluids.