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Category Archives: Common Cold

It is time to start thinking about getting the Flu vaccine. There will be flu shot clinics offered in the local area in the upcoming weeks that anyone can go to. Often these clinics are underutilized. There is still a great deal of misunderstanding about the flu vaccine and who should be immunized.

Each year an average of 20,000 people are hospitalized, and between 2,000 and 8,000 Canadians can die of influenza and its complications. Those most likely to suffer complications of the flu are the most vulnerable; children under two and adults over 65. The seasonal influenza vaccine is safe and effective and can benefit people of all ages. The flu shot only provides protection up to 12 months; immunization is required each year. This year’s flu shot protects against the H1N1 flu virus as well as two other strains of flu. October to mid-November is the best time for immunization, but the vaccine may still be given in winter months.

Who should get immunized? The following is a list from the recommended guidelines.

People at high risk of influenza-related complications, including:

  •  Adults and children with chronic conditions such as:
  • – Cardiac or lung disorders such as asthma

    – Diabetes mellitus and other metabolic diseases
    – Cancer, immunodeficiency, immunosuppression
    -Renal disease
    -Anemia
     

  • Children and adolescents with conditions treated for long periods with aspirin
  • All residents of nursing homes or other chronic care facilities
  • Seniors aged 65 years or older
  • Pregnant women
  • Children aged 6 months to 23 months of age
  • Persons who are morbidly obese
  • Aborigional peoples

People capable of transmitting influenza to those at high risk of complications, including:

  • Health care and other care providers
  • Household contacts of those at high risk and to infants less than six months
  • Members of a household expecting a newborn during flu season
  • Women at all stages of pregnancy or breastfeeding mothers
  • Those providing regular child care to children 0-23 months
  • Those who provide services within closed settings to persons at high risk

Others

  • People who provide essential community services
  • People in direct contact with avian influenza infected poultry
  • Healthy people aged 5-64 years should consider getting the vaccine even if they are not in one of the above groups

The list of those who should receive the vaccine is extensive. If you have had an anaphylactic reaction to the vaccine or one of its components you should not get the vaccine. Or, if you have an allergy to eggs you should discuss getting the vaccine with your health care practitioner. However, it has been shown that egg-allergic individuals may be vaccinated using the TIV vaccine.

Children 6 months to less than 9 years who have never received the seasonal flu vaccine require two doses, with a minimum of four weeks between doses.

Please remember that the flu shot cannot cause the flu. If you have become sick after getting the shot in the past it was a coincidental infection of some other kind. The main side effect is pain and redness at the site of injection for a day or two afterward.

The flu shot is effective. Scientific studies show the effectiveness of the flu shot to range from 70% to 90%.

Adults over 65 should also look in to getting the pneumococcal vaccine. Pneumococcal disease, a common complication of influenza, is a bacterial disease that can cause meningitis, bacteremia (a bloodstream infection) and pneumonia. You can get this vaccine at the same time as the flu shot through your doctor.

To date you must get your flu shot through your doctor or the flu shot clinics in the area. At some point in the near future this vaccine may become available to be given by your pharmacist who will be trained to give injections.

If you have any questions about any of the above information please call or visit your local pharmacy.

 

 

Cough and Cold season is here again.  There are many questions about which medication is the best to treat cold symptoms.  Unfortunately we have no cure for a stuffy head, runny nose, cough, and sore throat, but there are ways to treat these symptoms.

For children under six, it is best not to use traditional cold medications.  They don’t work well, and often cause more unwanted side effects than benefit.  Tylenol or Advil should be used to treat fever and help with discomfort.

Administer plenty of fluids to help loosen congestion.  Saline nasal sprays and drops can be used to loosen mucus as well as gentle suctioning.  A vaporizer in the child’s room can make breathing easier, but remember to change the water daily to avoid the growth of moulds and bacteria.  Turn down the heat in the house.  Warm dry air can be more difficult to breathe and cause irritation.  Opening a window in the child’s room is also helpful.  A teaspoon of honey can help settle a cough at night time, but don’t give to children less than one year of age (they don’t have the proper gut flora to protect against possible botulism). Topical rubs such as Vicks vapor rub contain menthol, camphor and eucalyptus.  They can provide a feeling of being able to breathe easier, but they should be applied sparingly and under a shirt to avoid contact with eyes and mouth.  Camphor should not be used in children under two as there are concerns about absorption and liver damage.

For adults there are many products to choose from.  Again, side effects caused by the medication can be worse than the cold.  All of the non-medicinal suggestions used for kids can also be effective for adults. Decongestants like pseudoephedrine, are generally not recommended for patients with high blood pressure.  There is a product called Coricidin that does help with congestion and is safe for people with high blood pressure.

For cough due to cold, a product with an antihistamine-decongestant combo works quite well.  Find one with a first generation antihistamine in it like brompheniramine, an example would be Drixoral cold and sinus.  Naproxen (now available inCanadawithout a prescription) can also help with a cough due to it’s anti-inflammatory properties.  Cough syrups with dextromethorphan may help with a cough and are generally safe for everyone to take.  Some syrups have an expectorant in them called guaifenesin, which is useful to help loosen mucus.  In general it does not make much sense to buy a product with both of these ingredients in it.  If you want to get rid of mucus in your chest, you don’t want an ingredient to suppress your cough.  Narcotic cough medications work the best to settle a cough but require a prescription from your doctor.

Make sure you understand what all of the ingredients are in your cold medication.  Often they will contain Tylenol (acetaminophen) or Advil (ibuprofen).  You don’t want to take more than the recommended doses of those medications.  However, you do want to take some Tylenol or Advil, they are both effective at treating fever and a soar throat.

A cold is much different than the flu.  The flu presents with fatigue, body aches, fever and sometimes a cough.  A cold is associated with runny nose, sore throat, and cough.  Although a cold makes us uncomfortable, generally the symptoms are manageable.  The best thing to do is use a mixture of old-fashioned remedies, cough and cold products, and rest as much as possible.

The flu (especially this year) can be life threatening.  It is not treatable with over the counter medications.  If you suspect you may have the flu, you should see a physician.

As always the best treatment is prevention.  Remember to wash your hands thoroughly and stay home if you are sick.

Cough and Cold season is here again. There are many questions about which medication is the best to treat cold symptoms. Unfortunately we have no cure for a stuffy head, runny nose, cough, and sore throat, but there are ways to treat these symptoms.

For children under six, it is best not to use traditional cold medications. They don’t work well, and often cause more unwanted side effects than benefit. Tylenol or Advil should be used to treat fever and help with discomfort.

Administer plenty of fluids to help loosen congestion. Saline nasal sprays and drops can be used to loosen mucus as well as gentle suctioning. A vaporizer in the child’s room can make breathing easier, but remember to change the water daily to avoid the growth of moulds and bacteria. Turn down the heat in the house. Warm dry air can be more difficult to breathe and cause irritation. Opening a window in the child’s room is also helpful. A teaspoon of honey can help settle a cough at night time, but don’t give to children less than one year of age (they don’t have the proper gut flora to protect against possible botulism). Topical rubs such as Vicks vapor rub contain menthol, camphor and eucalyptus. They can provide a feeling of being able to breathe easier, but they should be applied sparingly and under a shirt to avoid contact with eyes and mouth. Camphor should not be used in children under two as there are concerns about absorption and liver damage.

For adults there are many products to choose from. Again, side effects caused by the medication can be worse than the cold. All of the non-medicinal suggestions used for kids can also be effective for adults. Decongestants like pseudoephedrine, are generally not recommended for patients with high blood pressure. There is a product called Coricidin that does help with congestion and is safe for people with high blood pressure.

For cough due to cold, a product with an antihistamine-decongestant combo works quite well. Find one with a first generation antihistamine in it like brompheniramine, an example would be Drixoral cold and sinus. Naproxen (now available in Canada without a prescription) can also help with a cough due to it’s anti-inflammatory properties. Cough syrups with dextromethorphan may help with a cough and are generally safe for everyone to take. Some syrups have an expectorant in them called guaifenesin, which is useful to help loosen mucus. In general it does not make much sense to buy a product with both of these ingredients in it. If you want to get rid of mucus in your chest, you don’t want an ingredient to suppress your cough. Narcotic cough medications work the best to settle a cough but require a prescription from your doctor.

Make sure you understand what all of the ingredients are in your cold medication. Often they will contain Tylenol (acetaminophen) or Advil (ibuprofen). You don’t want to take more than the recommended doses of those medications. However, you do want to take some Tylenol or Advil, they are both effective at treating fever and a soar throat. A cold is much different than the flu. The flu presents with fatigue, body aches, fever and sometimes a cough. A cold is associated with runny nose, sore throat, and cough. Although a cold makes us uncomfortable, generally the symptoms are manageable. The best thing to do is use a mixture of old-fashioned remedies, cough and cold products, and rest as much as possible. The flu (especially this year) can be life threatening. It is not treatable with over the counter medications. If you suspect you may have the flu, you should see a physician. As always the best treatment is prevention. Remember to wash your hands thoroughly and stay home if you are sick.