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I got the flus

The cold and flu season is upon us – how prepared are you?

There probably was a time in your life when you didn’t mind getting sick. It was a day off school to sleep in, play video games, and suck down all the tomato soup and orange juice you could handle. It was almost always disappointing when your nose finally ran out and your temperature dropped back down to a comfortable 37 degrees Centigrade.

As you grow older, it’s not nearly as much fun. It means taking time off work, which nobody can afford to do these days, and the symptoms seem to hit you about 10 times harder. There’s nobody around to feed you soup, and you’re too aware of the price of orange juice to just guzzle it down like water.

Prevention, as always, is the best medicine when you’re heading into cold and flu season.

When people talk about flu season, they generally mean late fall, winter and early spring, which in Whistler is a time frame about ninth months long. You can still get the flu during the summer, but it’s a lot easier in the winter when you’re out of shape and weakened after a day in the cold, when you keep the windows closed and stay within the confines of your house or office in the company of your germ-ridden family, friends and co-workers. Other stresses on your immune system may include alcohol, refined sugars, and stress itself.

There are hundreds of different strains of flu viruses out there, with symptoms that can include fever, headache, muscle pain, runny nose, sore throat, and cough. Children can have nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.

The flu is typically not dangerous to the average person in itself, but because it can weaken your immune system it can leave you open to other more serious illnesses, such as pneumonia. True influenza is particularly dangerous in this respect, packing a far bigger wallop than most other strains of flu, sometimes leading to bacterial pneumonia, viral pneumonia, and other diseases.

It affects one in six Canadians every year, or approximately five million people, and costs businesses about $1 billion in lost productivity – that’s why so many businesses offer free vaccinations to their employees. And you can be down for the count anywhere from one to six weeks.

About 1,400 people die each year in B.C. from the flu and pneumonia, which is often flu-related. In Canada, about 6,000 people will die this year, and a further 70,000 will require some form of hospitalization.

That’s why it’s so vital for children and adults with health problems to protect themselves.

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