The weather is getting colder, so you know what that means: Flu season is upon us.
The influenza virus has been a diligent little pest in homes and workplaces alike for thousands of years, so this coming winter season should be no exception. All is not lost, however — with preparation and healthy habits you can give the old bug a run for its money.
Dr. Kashif Pirzada, a physician at the William Osler Health Centre in Toronto, offers a few tips on how to combat the persistent virus:
- Use common sense to avoid contracting the flu or spreading it to other people, and wash your hands like your mom always told you.
“Practice good health habits, such as covering your face when you cough, frequent hand washing, especially when you have ill family members, and avoid touching your face and your eyes,” Pirzada said.
- Make rest and nutrition a priority even more than usual. “Take care of yourself, eat well, don’t tire yourself out,” Pirzada said.
- Stay home — slinking sheepishly off to work when you’re sick can only hurt your co-workers in the long run and won’t help you get any better. “Avoid working when you are ill. Your boss should understand that the lost productivity from your work pales in comparison to having his or her whole department out of commission,” Pirzada said.
- Certain medications, when taken early enough, can help you shorten the flu or avoid getting it altogether.
“If you think you have the flu and you see a doctor within 36 hours, you can take Tamiflu or Relenza to shorten the duration of symptoms by about one day. If close contacts at home have the flu, you can also take these medications as a prophylactic, and they are 70 to 90 per cent effective in preventing subsequent infection,” Pirzada said.
- If you start to feel like you’re really getting your butt kicked, be safe and see your doctor — it never hurts to get a professional check-up.
“No amount of advice replaces a good medical exam, and if you’re not feeling well, are getting short of breath, are very young or very old, have other medical conditions, or in general have concerns, you should see your physician,” Pirzada said.