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.
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.
A new research study has found that four in five parents are administering the wrong dose of liquid medications — in some cases more than twice as much as instructed.
Through a series of experiments to test whether 2,100 parents could follow common dosing instructions, over 80 per cent of participants made at least one mistake while measuring, and 68 per cent of the time that mistake was an overdose.
“Many parents rely on the small plastic cup that often comes included with liquid medication or use a spoon from home to administer liquid medication,” explains Pharmacy Manager Jason Chan-Remillard. “Unfortunately, these methods make it easy to inaccurately measure a child’s dosage.”
In fact, the study indicated parents are four times more likely to give their children either too much or too little medication when using a plastic cup. The researchers suggest using a syringe instead of a cup or spoon could prevent many dosing errors.
“If parents are using a plastic cup, it should be placed on a level surface and the measurement should be confirmed at eye level,” says Chan-Remillard.
Dosage confusion also stems from the fact that instructions for liquid medications are often found in an assortment of measurements, from millilitres to tablespoons, and are often based on the weight – in pounds or kilograms – of the child. This leaves room for calculation errors which could result in an overdose, or the child not receiving enough medication. If the child receives too little, their illness could go untreated.
Chan-Remillard encourages parents to ask for dosage guidance from pharmacists even for common over-the-counter medications.
“Giving children the right dosage is just as important as giving them the right medication. Don’t be afraid to seek advice from pharmacists. There are no silly questions. We are here to provide parents with general education about dosage or even specific recommendations tailored to the individual child. We can also provide appropriate dosing tools such as syringes and instructions about how to use them accurately.”
Reference: Liquid Medication Errors and Dosing Tools: A Randomized Controlled Experiment http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2016/09/08/peds.2016-0357
More and more, people are turning to natural ways of calming the tickly throat and coughing that accompany winter ills. That’s no surprise, as throughout the millennia and across the world, humankind has turned to Mother Nature to help soothe and heal.
Did you know that keeping the nasal passages moist will help reduce the risk of contracting a cold or flu virus? By preventing drying and cracking of the mucous membranes, a humidifier or vapourizer can help prevent germs from finding an easy route into the body. In the colder months, the air in your home becomes very dry. This is primarily due to home heating and the fact that fresh outdoor air, laden with moisture, no longer enters from open windows. This dry indoor air draws whatever moisture it can from household objects and occupants. This is one of the reasons people experience drier skin in winter. Dry indoor air also dries out the mucous membranes of the throat and nose, causing discomfort and congestion, and reducing their ability to act as barriers against infection. Dried out mucous membranes develop tiny cracks that are open invitations for opportunistic germs, including the viruses that cause colds and flu.
I spend a lot of time every fall and winter reminding everyone to wash their hands often because aside from getting a flu shot – something nearly everyone should get – frequent hand-washing is the best way to reduce your risk of getting a cold or the flu.
Of course, that bit of advice is not nearly as important for most to remember in the summer because flus and colds are not nearly as prevalent in the summer as they are in the winter and early spring.
There is, however, one group that should be very careful about remembering to wash their hands frequently in the summer, as well as the winter, and that’s people who visit petting zoos with their kids.
A number of Traditional Medicinals® teas benefit the digestion, whether it be to soothe a troubled stomach, or relieve occasional constipation. Delicious Ginger Aid® tea helps calm digestive upsets including lack of appetite, nausea, digestive spasms, indigestion, and discomforts caused by gas build-up. Eater’s Digest® tea is ideal after a meal that has you feeling uncomfortable, to help the digestive process and prevent further stomach distress. People who suffer from indigestion will also appreciate Classic Chamomile® and Roasted Dandelion Root teas. READ MORE