October brings many of my favourite things: colourful leaves, warm pumpkin spice lattes and cute Halloween decorations. Unfortunately, it also marks the beginning of flu and cold season. My friends and family are complaining of sore throats and I can hear the symphony of coughing and sneezing on the 99 during my morning commute.
Influenza, or the flu, is an infection caused by the influenza virus. Common symptoms include fever, headache, muscle pain and exhaustion etc. A cold is characterized by stuffy nose, sore throat but fever and headaches are less common. Nobody likes getting sick, especially in the midst of midterms and assignments so here are some prevention tips from Health Canada that can help you ward off the flu and cold:
1. Get the flu vaccine: The flu vaccine, also known as the flu shot, is a safe and effective way to prevent you from contracting the virus that is administered via a shot or nasal spray. Something important to remember is you cannot get sick from the flu shot because it is a weakened or dead form of the virus. You can talk to your doctor or another healthcare professional if you have any questions and concerns. UBC offers free flu shot clinics from October 31st – November 9th. Locations and more information can be found here.
2. Wash hands often: Washing your hands with warm, soapy water can also prevent the spread of infection. It can be especially important after touching high traffic areas. For example, I always wash my hands after being on the bus and holding onto the bus poles.
3. Avoid touching your mouth/face with your hands: This can transfer germs, viruses and bacteria to your respiratory and oral cavities which makes it easier to gets sick.
4. Clean and disinfect surfaces: It can be especially important to clean areas that you (or others) touch often. Examples include: phone, laptop, doorknobs, light switches etc.
5. Living a healthy lifestyle: Eating healthy foods, exercising regularly and sleeping well helps keep your immune system running optimally which means it’s strong enough to fight off any infections. The Canadian Food Guide has great tips and tricks for making healthy food choices.
Although the above are great ways to prevent the flu, you may still end up feeling under the weather. Here are some tips to help you feel better and ensure you can get back on your feet as soon as possible.
Talk to your pharmacist/doctor: Complete recovery from the flu can take from 3 to 6 weeks while symptoms and surprisingly this is the same duration for recovery from a cold. Contact your doctor/pharmacist if symptoms persist or are especially bothersome, or book an appointment with Student Health services here to get help.
Sleep well/stay well rested
Try to stay home: This is important to prevent spreading the infection and to make sure you are getting the rest you need.
Take care of yourself: Things like drinking warm tea, taking hot showers or curling up with a blanket and a movie may not directly help you beat sickness but can help manage symptoms and are great for the soul.
Stay healthy and happy this flu season everyone!
Post written by Gavin S.