Preparing for Flu Season

Flu season is approaching, and that means many Canadians will find themselves coughing, sneezing, and dealing with other unpleasant symptoms. But are those symptoms due to a cold, influenza (“the flu”), or COVID-19, the newest respiratory virus to challenge our health? Here’s a guide to what you need to know about these illnesses.

Colds

Everyone gets a cold occasionally. A cold usually lasts a week or two, and the symptoms generally develop slowly over a couple of days. The symptoms include sneezing, stuffy nose, and sore throat, minor aches, and mild to moderate chest discomfort and cough. Colds don’t usually lead to serious health problems such as pneumonia, but occasionally complications can develop, including infections in the throat, ears, or sinuses. There are a number of steps you can take to reduce your risk of catching a cold:
• Wash your hands often.
• Keep your hands away from your face and avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth to prevent transferring the virus into your body.
• As much as possible, stay away from people who appear to be sick.
• Keep your immune system strong by eating a healthy diet and being physically active.
• Do not smoke. Smoking makes it more likely that you will catch a cold, and it makes the cold harder to get rid of.

There is no cure for a cold. Antibiotics will not help, because they fight bacteria but have no effect on viruses, and colds are caused by viruses. What you can do for relief is to treat the symptoms.

Here are some helpful tips:

• Drink plenty of fluids to help soothe a sore throat and thin the mucus in your nose and lungs. Hot fluids such as tea and broth can be especially helpful in relieving a stuffy nose.
• Take hot showers and use a humidifier in your bedroom to relieve a stuffy nose.
Saline drops may help drain thick or dried mucus.
• A dab of petroleum jelly can ease the discomfort of a red, raw nose.

If you decide to try cough and cold medicines, there are some things you need to know. These medications should not be given to children under six years of age. They won’t work on young children, and they may be harmful. For children age six and over, follow the instructions on the package carefully. Make sure you understand what the proper dose is and how often the dosing can be repeated. Whether these drugs are given to a child or an adult, if more than one is used, make sure they don’t contain any of the same ingredients, because you could risk getting an overdose of some ingredients by combining the recommended doses of several products.

Flu

Unlike colds, flu symptoms develop suddenly. In addition to cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, and muscle or body aches, common flu symptoms include fever, chills, headache, and fatigue. The flu is more serious than a cold, and it can lead to pneumonia and worsening of some existing conditions such as asthma. And even though the flu is caused by a virus, it can lead to bacterial infections. The best way to avoid catching the flu is to get vaccinated—either by getting a flu shot or by getting the nasal spray vaccine. In general, the flu vaccine is recommended for everyone age six months and older; however, there are some people who should not receive the vaccine. Your healthcare provider is in the best position to advise you on the vaccine and whether the shot or the nasal spray would be best for you. The effectiveness of the vaccine varies from year to year, depending on how closely the vaccine matches the particular flu virus that is circulating each year. Even if you do catch the flu after being vaccinated, it is likely that your symptoms will be milder and that your flu won’t last as long.

One thing that is important to understand is that the flu vaccine cannot cause the flu. The same good health habits that will help keep you from catching a cold will also help prevent the flu. People who are at high risk of flu complications should check with their doctor as soon as they think they may be experiencing flu symptoms. People in this category include young children, adults age 65 and older, pregnant women, and those with certain chronic conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, and asthma.
If you do get the flu, antiviral drugs may provide a helpful treatment. Antiviral medications can lessen symptoms and shorten the time you are sick by a day or two. They can also help prevent serious complications.

COVID-19

COVID-19 is adding another dimension to this year’s flu season. This is a new virus, and there is still much we don’t know about it. What we do know is that the symptoms vary from person to person, and some people who are infected with the virus experience no symptoms at all. When symptoms do occur, they may include any of the following:
• Abdominal pain
• Chills
• Cough
• Diarrhea
• Fatigue or weakness
• Feeling feverish
• Feeling very unwell
• Headache
• Loss of the sense of smell or taste
• Muscle or body aches
• Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
• Temperature of 38°C (100.4°F) or above
• Vomiting

It may take up to 14 days for symptoms to appear after exposure to the virus, and the virus can be spread even by people who have no symptoms.

The most common ways the virus spreads are through:
• Inhaling the virus in respiratory droplets spread by a cough or sneeze
• Touching something that the droplets have landed on and then touching your eyes, nose, or mouth before washing your hands
• Personal contact, such as by hugging someone or shaking hands

You can reduce your chances of catching the virus by taking some basic precautions:
• Avoid crowded places, especially indoor areas with poor ventilation
• Avoid non-essential trips out of your home
• Do not gather in groups
• Stay at least 2 metres away from other people
• Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer
• Wear a mask or face covering when out in public

If you become ill and think you may have COVID-19, isolate yourself at home for 14 days to avoid spreading the virus to others. If you live with other people, stay at least 2 metres apart at all times. Contact your healthcare provider for advice on how to relieve the symptoms. You can access your province’s self-assessment tool at https://ca.thrive.health/covid19/en.

 

Flu-shot and Influenza season update from Chris Chiew, General Manager of Pharmacy

To our valued customers,

We’d like to share with you an update from Chris Chiew, General Manager of Pharmacy, on the flu shot and upcoming influenza season, including the safety measures we have taken at London Drugs to help keep you safe while in our stores.

Transcript:

Hello, I’m Chris Chiew, General Manager of Pharmacy and member of the executive committee, at London Drugs.

The unique circumstances surrounding the approaching influenza season have many of our customers and patients asking important questions about how best to protect their families, neighbours and vulnerable members of the community from the double threat of common flu strains and COVID-19. Questions such as, how can we keep our schools and public spaces safe?

With all the uncertainty, one thing is certain: the flu shot is safe, and it’s the most effective tool we have in protecting against influenza, preventing its’ spread and ultimately save lives.

And because the flu presents an added challenge for frontline healthcare workers, as well as the most vulnerable members of the community, just by getting a flu shot, you’ll be doing your part – taking care of your own health and the health of your community.

Flu shots are especially important for the elderly and young children, who are more susceptible to flu-related complications that can lead to serious health problems or even death. But it’s important to remember that even healthy individuals should get a flu shot because the higher the rate of vaccination, the greater the protection necessary for our most vulnerable individuals. This is also known as herd immunity.

To reinforce this important message, London Drugs is providing added incentive to get immunized. For every flu shot administered at any of our pharmacies, a lifesaving vaccine will be donated to UNICEF Canada to vaccinate children in a developing country against tetanus, polio or measles.

You are likely aware, at London Drugs we’ve introduced a multitude of measures to help keep you safe while in our stores; from decals on the floor so you know where to stand, to plexi-glass barriers between you and our cashiers and pharmacy team, rigorous constant cleaning and sanitation, as well as personal protective equipment and masks for all our staff and pharmacists.

Beyond getting your flu shot, handwashing, social distancing and mask-wearing will continue to be important for everyone heading into flu season and for the foreseeable future. We want to commend those who have been diligent about protecting themselves by taking these precautions and we urge everyone to continue to act responsibly in this way when they visit our pharmacy and other public areas.

Particularly as flu season approaches, we are urging anyone experiencing flu-like or respiratory symptoms to stay home. Even mildly ill patients should not visit the pharmacy. Our pharmacists are available by phone to provide guidance around symptom management. Most over-the-counter medicinal products can be ordered online at LondonDrugs.com to be delivered right to your door.

Flu and coronavirus share common symptoms but there’s one big difference: a vaccine exists to prevent the flu – which is why it is more important than ever to get yours this year.

From our London Drugs family to yours,
Stay well and stay safe.

 

 

 

London Drugs Stores No Longer Accepting Recycling


London Drugs in-store recycling services will no longer be accepting customer recycling at our stores until further notice. Our top priority continues to be to focus on our customers and ensure that our staff and customers remain healthy and safe. We look forward to resuming recycling services when circumstances allow. In the meantime, please contact your municipal waste disposal and recycling facilities for their updates on recycling availability developments in your area.