It’s cold and flu season once again and odds are that you will come down with at least one such infection this year, and if you’re unlucky or a parent – kids bring these viruses home very regularly – you might even get sick two or three times.
You can, of course, easily lower your risk of getting the flu by getting the flu shot. Although it’s still early days, it appears that the current vaccine is a decent match against this year’s flu strain.
Unhappily, though, there are still no vaccines against the many different viral strains that cause colds. An experimental “cold vaccine” developed in the US seems to be working well at preventing colds in macaque monkeys, and although it’s a huge step from other primates to humans, this is still hopeful for the future.
Keep in mind that frequent hand-washing also seems to lower the chances of coming down with colds, the flu, and some gastrointestinal viruses too, so wash your hands often.
But if you do get sick, how can you tell the difference between a cold and the flu and does it even matter to know whether you are sick with one or the other?
The second part is easy to answer: a cold doesn’t do much damage but “the flu” can kill, especially the most vulnerable such as the very young, the very old, those with immune system problems, and others.
So yes, it does matter to know the difference if only to be much more aware of trying not to pass on the flu should you get it.
However telling the difference between the two isn’t easy.
In very general terms, although both viral infections produce somewhat similar symptoms such as a sore throat and cough, colds are milder infections that may drive you crazy because of your blocked nose or sneezing but unlike the flu, colds don’t usually lead to high fevers or more generalized symptoms such as aches and pains.
As I said, though, this is a broad generalization and there is a large symptom crossover between colds and flus.
Final question: how should these viral infections be treated?
Lots of fluids (as a Jewish man, I swear in the benefits of frequent large bowls of delicious home-made chicken soup), rest (I also believe that people who are sick with what they believe to be the flu should stay home until they feel better; and if they can’t stay home, they should at least wash their hands as often as they can) and judicious use of medications for symptoms, although if you do decide to use drugs for symptoms, please do yourself a favour and consult your pharmacist about possible side effects from these drugs and especially how these drugs may interact with other drugs you may be taking.
If you’re sick of being sick then London Drugs has everything you need to take care of your health. Click here to shop our collection of cough, cold and flu relief, or learn more about getting the flu shot at London Drugs here.
Doctors and Pharmacists Working Side-by-Side to Provide More Coordinated Care.
A new walk-in medical clinic has opened its doors inside London Drugs in Lethbridge making non-urgent health care services more accessible for Lethbridge residents who may not have a family physician or are unable to get in to see them quickly. The clinic offers comprehensive primary and preventative health care services that compliment those services offered by pharmacists.
“With doctors and pharmacists working side-by-side, we can provide more coordinated care to our patients. The new clinic will offer better access to health care for non-urgent medical services,” says Tim Neufeld, Clinic Manager with the Campbell Clinic, who have been providing healthcare to the patients in Lethbridge for over 100 years.
The clinic’s physicians specialize in family health and can diagnose, treat and write prescriptions for common illnesses such as strep throat; bladder, ear, eye and respiratory infections; stomach issues and diarrhea. They can also provide general consultations, physical examinations, preventive screening, conceptive care; treatment for minor wounds, skin conditions, sprains and strains; and make referrals to other specialists.
London Drugs Pharmacists can quickly identify potential barriers to medication adherence and can offer solutions to help encourage patients to stay on course. They also educate patients about drug interactions and possible side effects and can identify potential gaps in care. In addition, London Drugs pharmacists provide comprehensive medication management and wellness programs including; individualized diabetes management programs, medication reviews, chronic illness management, weight management & lifestyle counselling, asthma education, administering vaccines and immunizations; as well as assistance with everyday health issues around allergy, cough & cold, pain management, stomach health and eye care.
“Pharmacists are now the most accessible health care providers but our work requires a team-based approach. The opportunity for patients to come to one location to see a physician, consult with a pharmacist, get their prescription and receive follow-up care is a huge benefit not only from a convenience perspective but also from a quality perspective. The collaboration ultimately improves patient care,” says Rick Siemens, Pharmacy Manager at London Drugs in Lethbridge.
The clinic is located inside the new London Drugs location in Lethbridge at 1240 2A Avenue North. Patients can now walk-in to see a doctor from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Monday to Thursday and 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. on Fridays. Appointments can also be made by calling 587-425-0200.
For reasons that are too strange for me to understand, the flu vaccine is surrounded by more myths than Donald Trump has come up for why Hilary Clinton is more popular than him.
So if you’re hesitant to get a flu vaccine this year because you’re someone who has bought into one of those myths, especially the myth that the flu vaccine can give you the flu – it simply cannot. Period – let me try to change your mind by offering you a couple of simple but I think compelling reasons to get a flu vaccine this year.
First, getting vaccinated against the flu lowers your risk of getting a nasty bout of that very common winter-time infection, an illness that not only lasts for 7-14 days but which also produces pretty unwelcome symptoms.
How effective is the flu vaccine?
Well, the effectiveness varies year-to-year depending on how accurately the experts were when they decided which strains of flu virus to include in that year’s vaccine.
Sometimes they miss badly, of course, but last year, they did quite well so that last year’s flu vaccine was about 60% effective at preventing the flu, and hey, 60% effectiveness is nothing to sneeze at, I think you’d all agree.
But just as important as its overall preventive ability is that the flu vaccine is also quite effective at reducing the potential complications that can accompany the flu, such as pneumonia, which can, of course, be a life-threatening infection.
But for me, the overall main reason to get you all to get a flu shot every year is that widespread use of flu vaccination reduces the number of people who get sick with the flu, which in turn also reduces – obviously – the number of people who can pass the flu on, especially to people who are very vulnerable to flu complications, such as seniors – me! – and infants – my new grandson, who is still too young to get a flu shot.
So hey, do everyone around you a favour and get yourself a flu shot this year.
All the little ones and the old ones you come in contact with will be grateful to you for your effort.
To learn more about getting the flu shot at London Drugs or about booking an appointment, visit: http://www.londondrugs.com/flu.
For every flu shot administered at London Drugs this year, a lifesaving vaccine will be donated to immunize a child against tetanus, polio or measles
Customers who receive their 2016/2017 influenza vaccination at London Drugs will now play an active role in helping to protect tens of thousands of the world’s most vulnerable children from vaccine-preventable diseases. Through a new partnership with I Boost Immunity (IBI), a Canadian-based online immunization advocacy network, for every flu shot administered at London Drugs this year, a lifesaving vaccine will be donated to UNICEF Canada to immunize children in a developing country.
“By getting the flu shot you already help protect the most vulnerable people in your own community from potentially life-threatening illness including the very young, the elderly and the immunocompromised,” says John Tse, vice president, pharmacy at London Drugs. “This partnership with IBI in support of UNICEF Canada allows our customers to make a global impact, providing life-saving vaccinations to children worldwide while taking care of their own health needs.”
According to UNICEF, 19.4 million children missed out on basic vaccines needed to stay healthy last year. Almost one third of deaths among children under five are preventable by vaccines.
Tse says that the potential to save a child’s life with the simple act of getting the flu shot is added motivation to get vaccinated. “Our customers have the opportunity to be global change makers simply by protecting themselves and their families against the flu this year,” he says.
For each flu vaccination administered at any of London Drugs 78 pharmacy locations, I Boost Immunity will provide a tetanus, polio or measles vaccine to UNICEF Canada to vaccinate marginalized children at risk of deadly illnesses.
“Partnering with London Drugs is one of the many ways we hope to increase awareness about the importance of getting vaccinated and to improve immunization rates both here in Canada and across the globe,” says Michael Barnes, Executive Director of the Public Health Association of BC. “Diseases cross local and national boundaries. That means that vaccinating anyone, anywhere in the world, benefits all of us.”
I Boost Immunity is managed by the Public Health Association of BC and partnered with ImmunizeBC – a collaboration of the BC Centre for Disease Control, BC Pharmacy Association and regional health authorities –which aims to promote immunization as the best protection against vaccine-preventable diseases.
To learn more about getting the flu shot at London Drugs or about booking an appointment, visit: http://www.londondrugs.com/flu.
With a handful of flu cases already reported this year, pharmacists are advising patients to take preventative measures to avoid getting sick.
All London Drugs pharmacies will be offering this year’s flu vaccine but in addition to getting a flu shot, Pharmacists offer the following advice to help you reduce your chances of getting sick.
Your bones are like your bank accounts: the more you put into them when you’re still young, the more “bone capital” you have to draw on when you get older and you need harder bones.
And the reason you need to make your bones as hard as you can while you’re still young – this is done through eating well and doing weight-bearing exercise such as jumping and skipping and running, activities that come naturally to kids who are allowed to just play. Something that is becoming rarer and rarer, alas, in this new overly-scheduled, wired and connected era – is that bones start to get steadily weaker (we often refer to this as softening) from the age of about 25 on.
And if the bones weaken enough, you end up with osteoporosis.
Osteoporosis should never be ignored because bone fractures – no matter where they occur – can leave you with a pile of huge problems including lifelong pain (such as in fractures of the spine, for example), loss of function of parts of limbs (in wrist fractures, for example), loss of independence (such as through fractures of the hip) and even premature death.
In fact, one study found that any fracture in a person over the age of 50 doubles the risk of premature death, although no one is sure about why there is that link.
One other very important thing of note about osteoporosis: it is often referred to as a women’s disease but in fact, men get it, too, although not quite as frequently.
The bottom line is that you need to do something – actually a few things – about osteoporosis if you don’t want to suffer some if its potentially debilitating effects.
This starts with prevention, of course: weight-bearing exercise throughout life, healthy diet, not smoking, knowing which medications can raise your risk, and so on.
And if you already have osteoporosis, it’s very important to inform yourself about a few issues: the extent of the condition, what you can do on your own to slow down its progress, what you must do to prevent falling, which is of course, the major reason that bones break, and most important, the pros and cons of the medications you might be asked to consider taking.
Take a proactive approach to protecting your long-term bone health by attending a London Drugs Osteoporosis Screening Clinic*. During the 45-minute, one-on-one consultation, your Patient Care Pharmacist will provide you with a one-on-one screening to measure your bone strength with an ultrasound bone measuring device and assess your risk for falls and fractures. You will be provided with an assessment, tips on how to minimize your risks and a personalized action plan to fit your wellness goals.
Book your appointment online at London Drugs’ NEW pharmacy website.
*A small fee applies for this service, for which a tax deductible receipt will be issued.
World Pharmacists Day is designed to raise awareness about the role of pharmacists in providing care to the public. This year’s theme is “Pharmacists: Caring for you”. The theme reflects the increasing role pharmacists play in the provision of health care services and the tangible benefits they bring as health care providers. Pharmacists are the most accessible health care providers for Canadians, yet many are still unaware of the range of health services they are able to provide.
For many years, pharmacists have been taking on expanded roles in the Canadian health care system. Today’s pharmacist is highly respected as the medication management expert of the health care team. They collaborate with patients, their families and other health care providers to deliver a range of innovative services, including medication reviews, chronic disease management, immunization services and wellness programs.
World Pharmacist Day is an opportunity to remind Canadians about the health care services easily accessible through their pharmacists. At London Drugs, these services include: