Know how to recognize the flu, and know what not to do

Nearly one-quarter of people surveyed admit they'd go to work if they had the flu

Each year, approximately 12,200 hospitalizations and 3,500 deaths in Canada are caused by the flu.

According to a recent survey commissioned by Cintas Canada, Ltd., many Canadians could be putting themselves and others at risk for catching the flu.

The survey, conducted online by The Harris Poll among 1,046 Canadian adults ages 18 and older, reveals that 68 per cent of Canadian adults would leave their homes while sick.

According to the B.C. Centre for Disease Control, 80 per cent of common infections are spread by hands. Therefore, leaving home while sick can transfer these germs to other people or surfaces.

Of the nearly seven in 10 Canadian adults who would leave their homes while sick, nearly one in four (24 per cent) would go to work, and 26 per cent would patronize a retail store. As may be expected, 89 per cent would visit a doctor’s office.

Flu symptoms appear one to four days after exposure to the virus. They usually include the sudden appearance of fever, cough, and muscle aches and pain.

Other common symptoms may include headache; chills; fatigue (tiredness); loss of appetite; sore throat; and a runny or stuffy nose. Some people (especially children) may also have diarrhea and/or nausea and vomiting.

There can be additional symptoms to watch for in children. As a parent, you know your child best. Talk to your health care provider right away if you notice symptoms such as not drinking or eating as usual; not waking up or interacting with others; and being irritable (not wanting to play or be held).

People infected with the flu virus can spread it to others starting one day before the first symptoms, and until approximately five days after the first symptoms.

If you do get sick, stay home. Avoid close contact with other people until you feel well enough to get back to your usual day-to-day activities. This will help prevent the spread of the flu. Most people recover from the flu in seven to 10 days.

If you are a person who is at high risk of flu-related complications and develop flu symptoms, contact your health care provider and tell them about your flu symptoms over the phone before your appointment. That way, they can arrange to see you without exposing other people to the virus.

Reduce your risk of spreading the flu by washing your hands frequently with soap and warm water or using hand sanitizer. Sneeze or cough into a tissue or handkerchief, or into your elbow.

Stay home from work, and keep children who have the flu home from school or daycare, until the risk of infection has passed.

Visit your nearest hospital if you develop any of these serious symptoms: shortness of breath, rapid breathing, or difficulty breathing; chest pain; bluish or grey skin colour; bloody or coloured mucus/spit; sudden dizziness or confusion; severe or persistent vomiting; high fever lasting more than three days; or low blood pressure.

To help reduce the spread of germs this season, businesses should consider:

• Keeping hand soap and sanitizers stocked and easily accessible;

• Ensuring restroom equipment and fixtures like dispensers and faucets are always functioning;

• Promoting frequent and proper hand washing with warm soap and water;

• Regularly disinfecting high-touch surfaces such as door handles, countertops, desks, phones, and shopping carts;

• Organizing a vaccination event to help protect employees from the flu; and

• Encouraging workers to remain home when illness strikes.


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