Canadians at high risk for complications should get the flu shot and if they get sick recognize their flu symptoms to avoid hospitalization
TORONTO, Jan. 3, 2012 /CNW/ - It starts with a headache, chills and muscle aches. It comes on quickly, yet too many Canadians ignore the rapid onset of flu symptoms, dismissing it as 'just a cold.' According to the Ontario Lung Association, the millions of Canadians at increased risk for developing serious complications from the flu need to take it seriously, or they risk putting their health in jeopardy. Those at high risk include seniors, pregnant women and people with chronic medical conditions like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma, heart disease and diabetes.
Annually, complications from the seasonal flu are responsible for 8,000 Canadians deaths and over 20,000 hospitalizations.1
"Many Canadians are in the dark when it comes to the flu facts," says Dr. Anthony D'Urzo, a Toronto-based family physician and spokesperson for the Ontario Lung Association. "Too often the flu is mistaken for the common cold, and unfortunately for many people it is much more serious than they might realize. The flu needs to be addressed as soon as symptoms begin, especially if you are in a high-risk group."
To understand the difference between the common cold and the flu, watch the onset of symptoms. If they come on quickly and severely you most likely have the flu. If symptoms are slow and mild, chances are it's just a cold. Follow the checklist at www.on.lung.ca/flu to find out if you have a cold or the flu.
Equip yourself to fight the flu
A spike in flu cases is a reality this time of year, but there are ways you can protect yourself:
- Protect yourself by getting the flu shot as it is a very important part of preventing infection, especially if you are at-risk, aged six months or older
- Don't take the flu lying down. If you are a senior, pregnant, or living with a chronic medical condition, make it your top priority to see your physician as soon as symptoms appear.
- Keep your immune system strong. Get plenty of sleep and eat a well-balanced diet.
- Wash your hands. To help prevent the spread of the virus, wash hands thoroughly and often with warm water and soap or hand sanitizer before you touch your nose or mouth, keep a distance from those with the flu and regularly clean and disinfect common area and shared items.
According to Dr. D'Urzo, if the flu is not dealt with quickly, it can lead to serious issues including pneumonia, dehydration and worsening of chronic conditions. "Canadians need to take action to protect themselves and their first line of defense should be the flu shot. If you're in the high-risk group, it's important to see your doctor as soon as symptoms begin rather than relying on over-the-counter remedies because prescription treatment options are available."
For more information about influenza visit the Ontario Lung Association at www.on.lung.ca or call its Helpline at 1-888-344-LUNG (5864) and speak to a certified respiratory educator.
1The Public Health Agency of Canada. Influenza Immunization - "the flu shot." http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/im/iif-vcg/index-eng.php Accessed November 1, 2010.
Video with caption: "Video: Seasonal Flu 2012". Video available at: http://stream1.newswire.ca/cgi-bin/playback.cgi?file=20120103_C9787_VIDEO_EN_8549.mp4&posterurl=http://photos.newswire.ca/images/20120103_C9787_PHOTO_EN_8549.jpg&clientName=Ontario%20Lung%20Association&caption=Video%3A%20Seasonal%20Flu%202012&title=Seasonal%20Flu%202012&headline=Flu%20Facts%3A%20Take%20It%20Seriously%20And%20Act%20Fast
Image with caption: "Senior citizen in high-risk group for complications from the flu (CNW Group/Ontario Lung Association)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20120103_C9787_PHOTO_EN_8545.jpg
Audio with caption: "Audio 1: Seasonal Flu This Winter And How to Protect Yourself". Audio available at: http://stream1.newswire.ca/media/2012/01/03/20120103_C9787_AUDIO_EN_8547.mp3
Audio with caption: "Audio 2: Seasonal Flu This Winter And How to Protect Yourself". Audio available at: http://stream1.newswire.ca/media/2012/01/03/20120103_C9787_AUDIO_EN_8548.mp3
For further information:
Ontario Lung Association
416-864-9911 ext 283