Helpline: 1-888-566-LUNG (5864)
Call our toll-free number, 1-888-566-LUNG(5864), to speak to a Certified Respiratory Educator if you have any questions about the flu, Monday to Friday 8:30AM to 4:30PM
More Information/Flu Links
The flu (influenza) is an infection of the nose, throat and lungs caused by the influenza virus.
In most people, the flu is uncomfortable, tiring, and can keep you bedridden for many days. In seniors, young children, and people with chronic (long-term) lung diseases like asthma and COPD, the flu can be more serious. Each year the flu causes 500- 1500 deaths in Canada, possibly more.
- Loss of appetite
- Muscle aches
- Runny nose, sneezing, watery eyes
- Throat irritation
Differences between a Flu and a Common Cold
Most people have trouble deciding if it is the flu or a cold. This chart is provided to help you know the difference.
can be severe
|Aches and pains||Slight||Usually|
|Onset||Gradually gets worse over a few days||Comes on quickly and severely|
Often flu is diagnosed by observing the symptoms. It can be precisely diagnosed using lab tests. Doctors can pinpoint which flu virus is infecting you by taking a swab from your nose or throat, and sending the swab to the lab for testing.
The lab testing shows whether or not the swab sample contains flu virus, and if there is a flu virus, which exact strain it is. Knowing which flu strain is affecting people helps doctors and public health officials keep track of the disease. Doctors also use the test to check that it is the flu that's making you sick, and not some other disease.
- Rest: Stay home and in bed to allow your body to recover and to prevent spreading your flu germs to other people. Get lots of sleep.
- Drink plenty of water
- Treat the symptoms with over-the-counter medicines: You can take acetaminophen (for example, Tylenol), ibuprofen (for example, Advil), or another fever reducer/painkiller to get relief from headache, fever, and muscle aches. Ask your doctor or pharmacist which medicine is right for you.
- Antiviral medications: In some cases doctors may prescribe antiviral medications for people with the flu. There are pros and cons to this; your doctor will decide whether antivirals are right for you.
- See your doctor if you are not improving.
Get the flu shot every year
The flu shot is your best defense against the flu. The flu shot is recommended for most people over 6 months old, and especially recommended for people in high-risk groups:
- Childcare workers
- Healthcare workers
- People with weak immune systems
- People with chronic (long-term) diseases like asthma and COPD
The flu shot is not recommended for certain people:
- People who have a severe allergy to chicken eggs or who have had a severe reaction to a flu shot in the past
- Children less than 6 months old
- People who have a moderate or severe illness with a fever; they should wait until their symptoms lessen before they get the flu shot.
Wash your hands properly and often
How to wash your hands:
- Remove any jewelry
- Wet your hands with warm water
- Apply soap
- Scrub with soap all over your hands and under nails for 20 seconds (as long as it takes to sing Happy Birthday)
- Rinse your hands for 10 seconds under warm water
- Dry your hands completely with a paper towel
- Turn the tap off with a paper towel to avoid getting your hands dirty again
When to wash your hands:
- Before you eat or prepare food
- After you use the bathroom or change diapers
- After you blow you nose, sneeze or cough into your sleeve
- Before and after taking care of someone who is sick
Download a printable version of this handwashing poster. Post it at home, at school, and at work.
2015/2016 Flu Vaccines
The vaccines used this year contain two influenza A viral components (H1N1 and H3N2) and one or two influenza B viral component, which have been identified by the World Health Organization as most likely to circulate in 2015-2016.