Joel Tansey/Black Press
Diane Gillis likens flu season to an earthquake that comes around each year, and preparation is the key to keeping you and your family as healthy as possible.
And it doesn’t take a lot to be prepared for outbreaks of influenza.
Gillis, the coordinator for Vancouver Island Better Breathers, will be delivering a presentation at the SHOAL Centre in Sidney on Oct. 24 in the hopes of better preparing residents for the coming season.
Maintaining healthy habits, such as a proper diet, staying well-rested and keeping hydrated, can go a long way to ensuring a healthy winter and spring, but other simple strategies can have a big impact as well.
“Something very simple is to wash your hands…it’s something that sometimes is so easily overlooked,” Gillis said.
One strategy that Gillis employs while washing her hands is to hum a quick song – she suggests Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star – to ensure that the process is thorough enough to rid yourself of harmful bacteria and germs.
It’s also important to avoid frequently touching your face or mouth with your hands, as that’s a surefire way to make yourself vulnerable to contracting a virus.
Coughing or sneezing into your elbow is a good practice year-round, as it can help prevent the spread of disease to others.
“Hands spread about 80 per cent of common infectious diseases,” Gillis noted.
Beyond that, Gillis recommends everyone get the flu vaccine.
A common myth is that the flu shot can give you influenza. A fact sheet put out by the B.C. government notes that this is impossible, as the dose given to the patient contains inactivated influenza viruses that cannot cause infection.
Sometimes it can be particularly tricky to determine whether you have the flu or a common cold, as most of the symptoms are pretty similar.
Flu symptoms are typically much stronger, however, and fever and headaches are a rare symptom with colds.
Even with propert preparation, you might still get saddled with a nasty winter virus. In that event, Gillis recommends that individuals stay home from work, as this will help with their own recovery and avoid giving the rest of their workplace the illness. She also suggests everyone have a care plan in place with their physician, and to seek out a “flu buddy” who can pick up essential items and deliver them to you so you don’t risk spreading the disease to your neighbours.
“Stay home, get better, and don’t share it,” Gillis remarked.
For a full list of myths and facts regarding influenza immunization, visit healthlinkbc.ca and type influenza facts into the search bar.