The flu is hitting Toronto and other parts of the country hard, with an earlier than usual start to the season! And there has been a big spike in the number of cases according to Flu Watch, the national surveillance system that monitors its spread.  Flu Watch reports that as of December 15th, there were 3,557 cases reported in Canada, compared to the same period last year of only 188.

In Ontario, Toronto Public Health reports there have been 238 hospitalizations and 15 deaths.

What this means is that if you haven’t gotten a flu shot, it’s not too late, you should get it.  With so many people getting ill this season, it only makes sense to make the effort and help reduce both your chance of illness, as well as reducing the chance of spreading the disease

In Ontario, flu shots are available at pharmacies as well as your family physician’s office. And in Ontario, the Ontario Health Plan covers the shot for all ages.

The Flu is not the same as a cold although some of the symptoms may be the similar.With the flu, you usually develop a fever of 38 C (100F) or higher.  While you feel feverish, and you can also get the chills, body aches and you may experience headaches. Generally you are tired and may have a cough and a sore throat. You may feel nauseous.

The best care is to stay home until your fever has been gone for 24 hrs. You need to drink plenty of fluids, eat healthy foods, and gargle with salt water. Avoid contact with others and wash your hands often. And get plenty of rest.  There are antiviral medications that are sometimes advised, particularly in the elderly and high-risk patients.  The medications may help to shorten the course of the infection

If you’ve had a flu shot this year, but still get the flu, chances are it will be much less severe than if you were unprotected.  So you are less likely to need the emergency room and in hospital treatment.  And that’s what it’s all about.  We can’t avoid every case of influenza, but we can decrease our chance of a serious episode!