It’s that time of year again: the leaves are changing color, the air is getting cooler…
and seasonal flu season is in full swing.
Each year in Canada, the seasonal flu causes an average of 12,200 hospitalizations and 3,500 deaths.
While many people might just chalk up a case of the sniffles to cold weather or general malaise, given the stats, it’s important to be aware of the signs and symptoms of the seasonal flu and when it is time to see a doctor.
What is the Seasonal Flu?
Seasonal flu is a type of influenza that occurs each year.
It’s caused by the influenza virus, and it results in serious illness.
The seasonal flu can cause fever, body aches, fatigue, and chest pain. It can also lead to other serious health problems, such as pneumonia.
Who is at Risk?
According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, the flu can affect anyone, but those at a higher risk of complications include:
- People with health conditions, including heart disease
- People 65 years and older
- Children under 5 years of age
- Women who are pregnant
What to do if You Get the Seasonal Flu
If you do get the seasonal flu, it’s important to stay home and avoid close contact with other people, something we are all familiar with now!
If you absolutely have to be out in public, take the safety of others into consideration and opt to wear a mask.
You should also cover your nose and mouth when you sneeze or cough, and clean surfaces regularly.
Most importantly, if you’re feeling sick and are in a high-risk category, don’t wait – go see your doctor or healthcare provider right away and get treated for the seasonal flu to help reduce symptoms.
When to See a Doctor
While aches, fatigue, fever, and cough are all common symptoms of the seasonal flu, there are some signs that, if present, indicate that you should go see a doctor right away.
- A fever that lasts longer than 3-5 days and doesn’t respond to fever-reducing medications (Tylenol, Advil, etc)
- A fever that reaches 103 Farenhieght / 39.4 Celsius
- Severe body aches and pains
- Extreme fatigue or exhaustion
- Chest pain or difficulty breathing
If you experience any of these symptoms, it’s important to see a doctor or healthcare provider immediately, as the flu can turn into a serious illness.
Don’t forget to talk to your doctor about heart tests to ensure your heart is healthy!
Prevention Tips for the Seasonal Flu
There are a few ways you can prevent the seasonal flu:
One of the most important things you can do to prevent the flu is to get vaccinated.
Flu viruses are constantly changing, which is why medical resources are dedicated to designing new flu vaccines annually.
The seasonal flu vaccine is available each year, and it’s the best way to protect yourself and others from the virus.
Wash Your Hands
You can also protect yourself by washing your hands regularly.
Washing your hands with soap and water is one of the most effective ways to combat the spread of germs.
Visit the CDC for instructions on how to wash your hands the right way.
Our very own David Kirkpatrick also did a video on how to wash your hands!
Primary tips for preventing the seasonal flu that everyone can do to help:
- Avoiding close contact with people who are sick
- Staying home if you’re sick
- Covering your nose and mouth when you sneeze or cough
- Cleaning surfaces regularly
While the seasonal flu is a normal part of life, it’s important that we understand the potential risks and when to see a doctor.
This flu season, put the effort in to prevent the spread of germs and protect yourself and those around you!