Your 2019 Cold and Flu Season Guide

That’s right, it’s that time of year again. The dreaded Flu Season.

This guide will provide some essential tips on how to stay healthy this cold and flu season. It includes simple preventative measures and some tips on how to tell the flu from the common cold so you know how to treat them properly.

Staying Healthy 

Wash Your Hands and use Hand Sanitizer

The most important thing you can do to stay healthy at this time of year (though it’s also a great habit to have year-round!) is to properly wash your hands. This practice is one of the reasons why healthcare workers are able to remain healthy on the front lines even when they’re regularly in contact with people who have a cold or flu.

These professionals treat frequent hand sanitation as an essential step in their routines—and you should too! It won’t only help you to stay healthy, but it can also protect your loved ones or anyone you’re in close contact with.

Here are the most important times you should be washing your hands:

  • After being around sick people
  • After blowing your nose, sneezing, or coughing
  • Before and after preparing food
  • Before eating
  • After using a washroom

If you are using a public washroom, you can avoid undoing the good of washing your hands by shutting the faucet off with a paper towel. Also consider pushing the door open with your shoulder, or using another paper towel to turn the doorknob on your way out.

According to the CDC’s guide on how to wash your hands effectively, you should scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. To help you time it, you can quickly hum the “Happy Birthday” song twice.

Hand sanitizer is great for those times when it’s not convenient to get to a washroom.  Even though we may love the fancy-smelling ones, ensure to choose an alcohol-based sanitizer that has at least 60 percent alcohol.

Prepare Your Defenses

Another great way to avoid the cold and flu is to ensure your body’s natural defences are in place. How do you do that? Well, it’s as simple as taking a few measures that improve your overall health and boost your immune system. 

This includes:

Be sure to get your flu shot.  Speak to a Pharmacist to get your free flu shot in time. 

What Are Common Symptoms of The Flu vs the Common Cold?

When you think you or someone close to you may have caught a bug, it’s useful to be able to tell the difference between the flu and the common cold. This can be tricky because cold viruses cause many flu-like symptoms. Here are some tips for telling them apart.

  • Cold and flu viruses share symptoms like sore throat, coughing, and congestion. 
  • Flu symptoms tend to be more intense and come on more suddenly.
  • In adults, colds usually don’t cause fever (or only a mild fever), but the flu does.
  • The flu is more likely to cause severe muscle aches and soreness.
  • Extreme exhaustion is common at the beginning of the flu, but not colds.

If you are unsure if you’re dealing with the flu, one way to get help is with our Virtual Health service. This lets you text or video chat with a nurse practitioner through your smartphone, and they’ll help you get to the bottom of it.

Treating the Symptoms

Already too late and you’ve contracted the cold or flu? Be sure to check with your Doctor first and then a Pharmacist who can help you decide the best medicines to treat cold and flu symptoms. 

Good Luck Out There!

The flu is no joke. While most people can recover from it within two weeks, it can also lead to a variety of complications, from sinus infections to pneumonia. But with these tips, you should be able to make it through this cold and flu season with a clean bill of health!


Simple Ways to Manage Your Diabetes

One factor that differentiates diabetes from many other diseases is how extensively it can be controlled through lifestyle adjustments. When you’re living with diabetes, you have the real power to minimize its impact. Even small changes can make serious improvements to your quality of life.

Since the disease is affected by many different aspects of your lifestyle, there are a lot of options when it comes to managing diabetes. It’s always a good idea to learn what those options are so you can find the ones that work best for you.

What is Diabetes?

Diabetes mellitus, better known as simply “diabetes”, is a metabolic disease that causes high blood sugar. The disease comes in several forms but the two most common are diabetes type 1 and diabetes type 2. Type 1 is an autoimmune disease where your immune system attacks your pancreas. Type 2 occurs when your body becomes more resistant to insulin, causing sugar to build up in your blood.

Improve Your Eating Habits

It should go without saying that an important part of diabetes management is your diet. If you haven’t already started, you should create a healthy eating plan with the help of a nutritionist or other health care provider, and then try your best to stick to it. The plan should include recommendations on portion sizes as well as what types of food to eat.

Here are some quick tips to remember:

  • Use meal planning to ensure all your meals have a good balance of starches, proteins and fats. 
  • Go for fruits, vegetables and whole grains as much as possible, as these low-carb foods provide fibre to help stabilize your blood sugar levels.
  • Drink less sugar-sweetened beverages. Soda and juices have a lot of empty calories, and can rapidly increase your blood sugar levels. Making a habit of drinking more water can help you avoid them.

Get More Exercise

Exercise helps control diabetes in a number of ways. It lowers your blood sugar, decreases your body’s resistance to insulin, and improves heart health. It can also help you lose weight, improve your circulation, lower the risk of many diabetes-related issues.

Whether it’s aerobics or strength training, any physical activity can help. The most important part is discussing your exercise plan with a health care provider and making it part of your regular schedule. 

Important tips to keep in mind:

  • Dehydration can impact your blood sugar levels, so make sure you drink lots of water while exercising.
  • Keep a close eye on your blood sugar when starting a new exercise plan. If the activity or intensity level is new to you, it can sometimes lower your blood sugar the following day.
  • Take care of your feet. If you’ve been dealing with circulation issues, you may be at risk of foot injuries like ulcers. Proper footwear like custom orthotics can help you protect your feet while exercising.
  • Quitting smoking makes exercising easier, and is one of the best ways to improve your cardiovascular health.

Monitor Your Blood Sugar Level

Blood sugar testing is an essential part of managing diabetes. Not only will it help guide your treatment, but it also helps ensure you stay within safe limits. Some of the benefits it offers include:

  • Helps you judge how well you’re meeting your goals
  • Helps you see how exercise and eating habits affect your blood glucose levels
  • Lets you know when your levels are too high or too low

Use Stress Management Techniques

Stress affects blood sugar in several ways. For one, it triggers a hormone response in your body that can raise blood sugar levels. On top of that, when you’re feeling overwhelmed by stress, you might find it hard to stick to your diabetes management plan.

Here are some quick tips to help you cope with stress:

  • Start monitoring and recording your mood when you check your blood sugar levels. This can help you see the impact stress is having on you. If you notice a pattern, it can help you identify the triggers for your stress, so you can manage it in the future.
  • Get some help learning relaxation techniques. Health care providers can teach you about the different methods and help you find the ones that work best for you.

Get Educated

Diabetes treatment and management can be complicated. It involves a lot of planning around many different aspects of your life. This is why diabetes education programs can be very useful. They can help you understand exactly how the disease impacts you, and the best ways for you to minimize those impacts.

Remember: You Have The Power

Making changes to your lifestyle can take some real effort. When you have a long-standing bad habit, it can be hard to break the cycle. If you take the steps to manage your diabetes early on, eventually you will begin seeing improvements to your health, which can be a great motivator.

Remember that you have the power to control your diabetes. By sticking with your diabetes management plan, you’ll be surprised at how quickly you can start enjoying better health and quality of life.

As a final note, be sure to speak to your doctor for advice if you need help with diabetes in pregnancy, diabetes in children, or if you develop any diabetes complications.


Simple Ways to relieve Stress

Stress is a normal part of everyday life. Everyone experiences stress, but it’s not always a bad thing. For example, when you’re preparing for a job interview, some stress can be expected and it can sometimes motivate you to perform well.

However, stress is a problem when it becomes constant or overwhelming. It can cause changes in your body that negatively affect your immune system, sleeping habits, mental health, and more. 

This leads to symptoms like anger, sadness, anxiety, irritability, headaches, and sleeplessness. Over time, stress can contribute to serious health conditions such as high blood pressure and heart disease. Some people even experience stress rashes and hives.

Thankfully, there are a lot of techniques for helping you deal with stress. They range from simple mental exercises to guidelines for managing your daily schedule. The wide range of methods available means that you should be able to find options that will work for you in different situations. 

 Here are some effective coping techniques for overcoming stress:

Take a Breather

Controlling your breathing is one of the easiest ways you can calm your body and feel more relaxed. It’s also a technique you can do wherever you may be—whether it’s the office, in traffic, at home or outdoors. There are several different breathing methods you can try, but a simple one to start is to just focus on taking slow, deep breaths. Breathe in through your nose while slowly counting to three, hold it for one second, and then slowly exhale while counting to three again. Go ahead and try it right now while you read this. 

Meditate On It

Meditation involves focusing your attention and blocking out all your nagging thoughts. Besides relieving stress, meditation has been shown to help alleviate symptoms of a range of conditions, from chronic pain to asthma.

There are many different types of meditation, but the one that most people are familiar with is mantra meditation. This method involves closing your eyes, choosing a calming word or phrase, and then repeating it in your mind. The mantra gives you something to focus your attention on while avoiding distracting thoughts. Among meditation’s many benefits, it can retrain your mind to be better focused and block out unwanted and anxious thoughts.

Hug a Loved One

This tip may sound silly or simple, but you may not realize just how beneficial hugging can be. Research shows that a simple caring touch from a loved one can make a real impact on your health. That’s because it releases oxytocin, which causes relaxation, lowers blood pressure, and results in a decrease in stress hormone levels such as cortisol.

Shorten Your To-Do List

Setting goals and priorities is a good thing. It can help you stay on top of your responsibilities and can give you a sense of accomplishment. But your to-do list can also be a major contributor to your stress when it becomes unmanageable. So whittle down that list of tasks so it’s more realistic.

To help guide you, start keeping track of how often you are able to complete everything on your daily agenda. Then start making adjustments until it becomes the norm.

Talk it Out

When you’re dealing with stress on your own, every little problem can seem worse than it actually is. In this way, your distorted perception of problems can contribute to your stress. 

But speaking to someone you trust, like your family or friends can help you get some perspective. By helping you see things from another point of view, you may realize that an issue that was stressing you out was not as bad as you thought. Talking with others can also give you more confidence to deal with situations by receiving helpful feedback.

Get Help From an Expert

Mental health professionals like counsellors and therapists are experts at stress management. Besides knowing the different techniques, they understand how to help you use them properly and find the best solutions for you.

Getting expert help may be easier than you think, especially if you use a virtual health service. This lets you get assistance via texts or video chat from any smartphone, so you can find help with stress management wherever and whenever you need it.

Don’t Ignore It

Remember, stress is normal, but being overwhelmed by it isn’t. You shouldn’t learn to live with chronic stress as part of your daily routine. It can seriously impact your mental state and overall health. But with some simple techniques and a little help, you can overcome it.