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As They Grow – Cold and flu season

Predicting weather and predicting the flu season are national pastimes in Canada.  While we rely on the Farmer’s Almanac to predict the severity of the winter season, we rely on agencies such as the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) to make predictions about the upcoming flu season.

The peak of flu season in Canada is typically from late fall to early March.  The flu season in Australia is often the predictor of our flu season.  This year has seen a rise in cases of flu in Australia and, in particular, the strain has been one that causes a more severe illness, the H3N2 strain.

The flu is different from a cold and while a cold can cause sore throat, congestion and cough, a flu is associated with more severe body aches, extreme weakness, cough and sometimes nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.  The flu can also lead to secondary infections such as pneumonia and ear infections.  This is especially true for those who are very young or the elderly.

Our best protection against the flu is to be vaccinated.  There is an attempt to predict the subtypes of the flu virus each season and, even when there is a miss in predicting this, having the flu shot makes the illness less prolonged and severe.

Frequent handwashing can prevent getting the flu.  If you become ill, staying home from work or school and coughing into your sleeve can help to minimize spread.  It is tempting to hibernate in the winter.  Being in close quarters and staying indoors together adds to the likelihood of getting the flu.

It is not too late to get the flu shot and getting it now will help to protect you and your family during the peak season.

Wishing you a health winter ahead!

Dr. Bhooma Bhayana is a family physician in London and the mother of two young men and grandmother of one lovely princess! She continues to find wonder and enjoyment in family practice despite more than 30 years on the job!


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