A Shoppers Drug Mart Pharmacist sets you straight on some common misconceptions
When you’re hit with a cold or the flu, what you want is fast relief
from your symptoms, but often what you’ve got are questions. Your
Shoppers Drug Mart Pharmacist can help.
Whether you’re wondering which over-the-counter remedy is best for
you and your family, or curious about the side effects of a
prescription, your Shoppers Drug Mart Pharmacist is your knowledgeable
source of trusted information. They’re always available during store
hours and many Shoppers Drug Mart locations are open late to serve you
Your Pharmacist can help you understand your best defense during cold and flu season as well as your best offense against symptoms if you have an infection Knowledge is power and your Pharmacist can separate all the fact from the fiction. And that means you’ll be feeling better, faster. Myra Allen, Pharmacist answered the questions below, and they’re just a start—if you have other concerns, visit your pharmacist whenever it suits you, there’s no appointment necessary.
Q. As a Pharmacist, what is the biggest misconception you find when people come to see you with cold and flu symptoms?
A. The biggest misconception is that people confuse "stomach flu" with influenza. They are completely different.
“Stomach flu” can be gastroenteritis caused by bacteria from food
poisoning or a stomach virus.
Symptoms often involve 1-2 days of nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. People
believe that since they are not experiencing these symptoms it is not
the flu. But flu symptoms rarely include nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.
For a list of flu and cold symptoms, click here.
Another common misconception is in regards to the use of antibiotics
in treating both colds and flu. Antibiotics are used to treat bacterial
infections, like strep throat, for example. The common cold is caused by
a virus, and there are no effective medications to treat it. The flu is
also caused by a virus, so antibiotics are not effective against the
flu either. Fortunately, we have antiviral medications, such as
Tamiflu™, that can minimize the symptoms of flu and reduce its
transmission. These are most effective if taken within 24 to 48 hours of
the onset of symptoms. Most people with the flu are contagious for 10
days after symptoms appear. It is very important to stay home when you
are sick to help prevent the spread of the flu.
Another common misconception is that it is okay to stop the antibiotic
or antiviral treatment once you start to feel better. You must continue
with the entire course of medication as prescribed by your health care
provider. This applies to all bacterial and viral infections, such as
strep throat and the flu. If you interrupt the course of antibiotics,
stopping in the middle of a seven- or 10- day prescription, for example,
bacteria and viruses can develop a resistance to the medication, which
means that the medication will no longer be effective and the infection
could flare-up again.
Q. The adage “feed a cold, starve a fever” is very common. How true is it?
A. Not at all. When treating any kind of illness it’s very important to keep up your strength as much as possible. You do this by maintaining adequate food intake and drinking lots of fluids. Staying hydrated is particularly important for people with a fever as they are susceptible to dehydration.
Q. Can a cold turn into the flu?
A. A cold cannot “turn into the flu” as they are two completely different infections. However, if you are run down from fighting a cold, your immune system may also be weakened and make you more susceptible to getting the flu from another infected individual. Yet another good reason to stay home when you’re sick.
Q. Can I catch the flu from a flu vaccine?
A. You can’t catch the flu from any of the injectable vaccines because they don’t contain any live viruses. Some people experience side effects of the vaccine (fever, aches and pains) for several days and mistake this as the flu. Remember: flu symptoms are much more serious and can last for a longer period of time.
FluMist™ is a new, inhaled vaccine that contains small amounts of weakened, live virus. People who are generally healthy cannot get the flu from this vaccine. However, some people with weakened immune systems should not receive this vaccine, or be in contact with people who have had this vaccine, as they may contract the flu.