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THE FLU – MORE SERIOUS FOR SOME PEOPLE THAN OTHERS

Are you at higher risk of complications from the flu?

The flu has been around for thousands of years, but science really only started to understand it in the 1930s. After 85 years of research, the science on influenza is very strong. Even so, opinions at the water cooler about the virus are wildly different, including the belief that the flu is just a minor inconvenience.1

The truth is, the flu can be quite serious, particularly for certain high-risk groups. Last year in Canada, there were over 12,000 hospitalizations and 3,500 deaths resulting from the flu.2

 

GROUPS AT RISK

Everyone can get the flu, including healthy adults. Some of the most common symptoms experienced with the flu can cause you to miss out on day to day activities. In addition to a couple of sick days caused by the extreme exhaustion experienced at the beginning of the flu, productivity can fall due to fatigue lasting 2-3 weeks.4

Vaccination to prevent the flu is especially important for people at higher risk of flu-related complications. This includes people in the following categories:

  • Age - over 65 years of age, children under 5 years old
  • Pregnant women
  • Residents of long-term care facilities
  • People with weakened immune systems or medical conditions, such as asthma, COPD, heart disease, kidney disease, liver disease, neurological conditions and endocrine diseases, such as diabetes.5

 

COMPLICATIONS AND WHAT TO DO ABOUT THEM

Depending on the individual, there are many ways that the flu can lead to health complications. Asthma and bronchitis can arise from the virus’s affect on the respiratory system, but even heart problems and ear infections may arise too. The most serious issue is pneumonia, which is caused by fluid in the lungs and can be fatal.6

People 65 years and older represent 50-70% of flu-related hospitalizations.7 “Flu can be extremely serious in older people, leading to hospitalization and in some cases long-term disability….People 65 and older should seek medical care early when they develop flu symptoms,” says Dr. Dan Jernigan, director of CDC's Influenza Division.8

Once sick, the most important thing is to get early treatment. Starting treatment with antiviral drugs in the first four days reduces the severity of the infection and cen help to prevent hospitalization.

 

WE ALL NEED TO DO OUR PART

The best treatment is prevention. Being careful to not get the flu in the first place helps protect those around us who are at higher risk. Washing our hands regularly and disinfecting surfaces during flu season makes a difference.

The strongest defense is getting vaccinated against the flu every year.

If you do get sick and you are not part of a high-risk group, a pharmacist can help you determine if it’s a cold or the flu, and recommend a treatment plan depending on what you have. Visit your local Guardian, I.D.A, Medicine Shoppe or Remedy’sRx pharmacy for more details.

 

1http://www.medicalecology.org/diseases/influenza/influenza.htm
2
http://healthycanadians.gc.ca/diseases-conditions-maladies-affections/disease-maladie/flu-grippe/resources-ressources/facts-faits-eng.php
3
http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/influenza/flu-stat-eng.php
4
http://www.webmd.com/cold-and-flu/cold-guide/flu-cold-symptoms?page=2
5,6
http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/flu/basics/complications/con-20035101
7
http://cid.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2015/09/01/cid.civ733
8
http://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2015/p0902-early-flu-treatment.html

The information in this article is presented strictly for informational purposes only, and should not be taken as medical advice. Please see your health care provider if you have any questions about your condition, medication, or treatment.

WHAT IS THE FLU?

Seasonal influenza, commonly known as the flu, is a highly contagious infection of the airways, affecting the nose, throat and lungs.

Learn More About the Flu