Preventing and dealing with Flu

Influenza, or the flu, can cause serious health risks, and sometimes even death due to complications. A person with the flu is also at risk of other infections like pneumonia, an infection of the lungs. According to Health Canada, flu season usually runs from November to April, and an estimated five to 10 per cent of Canadians get the flu each year.

Influenza: an acute contagious viral infection characterized by inflammation of the respiratory tract and by fever, chills, muscular pain, and a feeling of weakness and fatigue.

Influenza pandemic: a worldwide epidemic of influenza. It means that the virus emerges from one location and spreads very quickly throughout the world.

Symptoms of the flu:

  • Fever;
  • Headache;
  • Fatigue and feeling weak;
  • Sore throat;
  • Cough;
  • Muscle aches and pains;
  • Runny, stuffy nose;
  • Chest discomfort, coughing;

Most cases of the flu tend to be mild. However, if you do not start to feel better after a few days or if your symptoms get worse, please consult your health care provider.

Prevention

  • Wash your hands often, using plenty of soap and warm water.
  • Sneeze into your elbow, not your hands.

Proper hand-washing technique:

  • Wet your hands with warm water, apply soap;
  • Rub your hands together in a soapy lather, between your fingers and under your fingernails too, counting to 15 – away from the running water – (sing the ABC’s or Happy Birthday song);
  • Rub all the surfaces of your hands: backs, insides and wrists;
  • Rinse your hands off counting to 10;
  • Pat your hands dry with paper towel or use a warm air dryer;
  • If possible, turn off the taps with the paper towel;
  • Dispose of the paper towel by putting it in the garbage near the sink.

Other tips:

  • Cover your mouth when you cough.
  • Use a tissue or a handkerchief when you sneeze.
  • If you become sick, stay at home.
  • Talk to your health care provider about the annual flu shot.
  • Get a kit: You can buy a preparedness kit from the Red Cross, or make your own. Make sure it has enough supplies for your family to be self-sustainable in the event of a pandemic influenza for seven to 10 days.

If someone in your family gets sick:

  • Designate one person as the caregiver.
  • Avoid sharing personal items (such as towels, sheets, food, eating utensils) unless they are properly cleaned after each use.
  • Disinfect surfaces in the home that are frequently touched: doorknobs, switches, computers, telephones, toys etc.
  • Wear disposable gloves when in contact with or cleaning up bodily fluids.