News flash: This year’s flu season has been brutal. So far, 24 flu-related deaths have been reported in Canada and 119 Canadians were admitted to the intensive care unit.
The most affected by the flu this season are children and adolescents. Reported cases in this age group have been more than twice as high as it was at this time last year, and more than three times as high as it was at this point in the 2016-2017. This is because this year the most prevalent strain is H1N1, best-known for the 2009-2010 influenza pandemic. This particular strain of Influenza A, tends to affect children the hardest as they have not had a chance to build an immunity towards it. Where as most adults, particularly older adults, have encountered this strain already at some point in their life, which is good news for the elderly.
Ease symptoms of the flu
Get a lot of rest. Stay home and away from other people to prevent spreading the virus. Good hand hygiene and contact precautions will hepl prevent spread it at home. Increase fluid intake as one can get easily dehydrated, over the counter analgesics such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen for fever and pain, and over the counter decongestants for nasal congestion if present. Over the counter cough suppressants have little evidence of good efficacy and one study found that honey was equally as effective as most cough suppressants.
How to tell if you’re getting worse
The good thing about influenza is that it is a self limiting illness, meaning it typically resolve on it’s own within 1 to 2 weeks. Signs that you may have a complication such as pneumonia include: illness that persists beyond 2 weeks, shortness of breath or signs of respiratory distress in children (nasal flaring, intercostal retraction and tracheal tugging), pleuritic chest pain (pain in your chest when you take a deep breath), persistent high grade fever not responding to over the counter analgesics.
Get the flu shot (even if you already got the flu)
It protects against three to four of the most common strains of influenza. Therefore it will protect you against other common strains and prevent getting the flu a second time. We recommend getting the flu shot until the symptoms of the flu have resolved and there is no fever.