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Protect Yourself and Your Family Against the Flu

Flu shots can help you get immunization against the flu. Our pharmacists are licensed to give influenza vaccinations.

Flu Shots and Vaccinations

People generally consider the flu and cold to be the same thing. But the flu can result in serious health problems such as bacterial infections, pneumonia, and more. When you have a runny nose, sore throat, or other such symptoms, get it examined by a doctor as prevention is key. Visit Sarnia Pharmacy to get yourself and your family immunized against influenza. We have certified pharmacists in our team to give you influenza vaccines. You can also visit our flu clinic for medications and advice.

Treating Cold and Flu During Pregnancy

Is It Dangerous To Have A Cold Or Flu During Pregnancy?
When a cold strikes during pregnancy, it does not really represent a health risk to the mother or her unborn child, even if it momentarily compromises the well-being and quality of life of the person affected by it.

The same cannot be said about the flu (or influenza), which carries serious complication risks throughout pregnancy. These complications may result in respiratory problems (such as pneumonia) and lead to hospitalization. In aggravated cases, there is a risk of premature labour and even the death of the mother and fetus.

Canadian public health authorities recommend that all pregnant women must be vaccinated against influenza, regardless of the stage of their pregnancy, to prepare for flu season (starting in October and November). Additionally, it is advisable to treat pregnant women with antiviral medication if they have the flu. You should see a doctor if you think you have the flu.

Both cold and flu are contagious viral respiratory infections. Therefore, they cannot be treated with an antibiotic, unless they are accompanied by a bacterial infection such as otitis, sinusitis, bronchitis, or pneumonia. The best way to prevent these types of infections is to adopt effective hygiene measures, such as frequent handwashing. It is also important to avoid close contact with infected persons.

How Can You Differentiate Between Cold and Flu During Pregnancy?
The most common cold symptoms include:

  • Runny nose

  • Dry or wet cough

  • Sore throat

  • Sneezing

  • Fever


Whereas the typical symptoms of the flu are:


  • A bad cough

  • Fever

  • Muscle pain/soreness

  • Chills

  • Weakness

  • Headache

  • Sore throat

  • General malaise


These symptoms are variable in nature and intensity. They generally get resolved themselves within 10 to 14 days. Treatment of cold and flu is mainly based on adequate rest and symptom relief. Please make note that taking medication can give you relief from symptoms but does not speed up the recovery process.

Medications and Safety Measures for a Pregnant Woman and her Fetus
Follow the below steps to get relief from cold and flu:

  • Take a saltwater solution, which you can use to get relief from a runny nose, sneezing, and nasal congestion. If this treatment is ineffective, the use of certain over-the-counter medications may be considered. If this occurs, be sure to ask your pharmacist for advice.

  • With a recommendation from a healthcare professional, you can take acetaminophen which can ease your headache, fever, sore throat, and ease muscle pain.

  • Gargling with salt water can also help you ease a sore throat.

  • Wear loose-fitting and comfortable clothes.

  • Take a lukewarm bath if you have a fever.

  • Get plenty of rest and sleep sufficiently.

  • Drink plenty of fluids, including water.

  • Use a humidifier, especially in your bedroom, if the air in your home is too dry.


If you are pregnant, always talk to your doctor before taking any kind of medication, health supplements, and natural health products. As many products are available in the market with different ingredients, vigilance is the key.


When Should You See a Doctor?

If you experience the following symptoms, please see a doctor:

  • Fever (≥38.5°C) that persists despite taking acetaminophen

  • Fever that lasts longer than 24 hours

  • Nausea, vomiting, or significant headaches

  • Difficulty in breathing

  • Dehydration

  • Pain or pressure in the chest or back

  • Any other unusual or alarming symptoms

Fight Cold and Flu Symptoms

How Can a Cold or the Flu Be Treated?
Cold and flu are both caused by viruses, and therefore antibiotics are not an effective way to treat them. The best way is to focus on prevention which includes washing hands frequently and avoiding close contact with infected individuals.

Our immune system generally fights with cold and flu. But the symptoms of cold and flu can be eased by taking proper rest and adequate fluids and using some recommended over-the-counter medication until you get better.

Nasal Congestion, Runny Nose, and Sneezing
Using a decongestant pill or nasal spray can have side effects. Hence, it’s recommended not to take these before bedtime. But you can take a decongestant containing an antihistamine to get relief from watery eyes, runny nose, and sneezing.

Nasal sprays are habit-forming and should be used to a maximum of 5 days consecutively. However, saline nasal sprays, rinses or drops, are a good natural option and can be used for people of all ages including babies and young children.

Dextromethorphan (DM) is generally used for dry cough. But if you have lung problems, it is recommended to consult your pharmacist before taking a medicine containing DM.

Cough syrup with guaifenesin can be a good expectorant if you have a moist cough. This medication can be available combined with DM and menthol.

Muscle Aches, Fever, Headaches and Sore Throat
Acetaminophen has a safe profile that can be used for muscle aches, headaches, fever, and sore throat. Ibuprofen, though recommended can have side effects and is not suitable for everyone. Ask your healthcare professional before you have it over-the-counter. You can also have lozenges for sore throat. Ask your pharmacist for the wide range of lozenges available in the market.

Some products also combine various kinds of medication in a single formulation. Consult your doctor before taking them as they might not be suitable for you. Your pharmacist or medical professional can recommend medicines according to health, age, medical history, and other medications that you might be already taking.

Cold and Flu: How to Tell Them Apart

Flu or Cold?
Flu and cold are two different infections caused by different viruses. The flu is caused by the influenza virus and a common cold can be caused by different kinds of viruses, but the most common virus belongs to the rhinovirus family.

What Are the High-risk Periods?
Flu and cold can occur anytime especially during fall, winter, and spring. The flu strikes especially during January, February, and March. So, viruses often pass from one person to another during the holiday season.

Viruses responsible for cold and flu are transmitted either by direct contact with a person or infected object. The infections can be contracted when people touch their faces, nose, or rub their eyes. Therefore, it is important to wash your hands when the risk of transmission is high.

Vaccination against the flu is available. You can talk to your pharmacist to learn more about the advantages and disadvantages. Fall is the best time for this vaccine. However, there is no vaccine available for a cold.

Symptoms of Cold and Flu
Symptoms of a cold are:

  • Fever is transient, rare, and mild

  • Headaches are rare

  • Overall pain, fatigue, and weakness is occasional and mild

  • Sneezing, runny or stuffed up nose, and sore throat are common

  • Coughing can be mild, moderate, and more rarely severe


​Some of the symptoms of flu are:

  • Sudden high fever (102oF/38.9oC to 104oF/40oC) which lasts for 3-4 days

  • Headaches and overall pain is common and sometimes intense

  • Fatigue and weakness are common and can be severe at the beginning and last several weeks

  • Sneezing, runny and stuffed nose are rare

  • Sore throat is common

  • Coughing is strong and accompanied by respiratory problems


What to Do to Ease Symptoms?
As flu and cold are viral infections, antibiotics have no effect on them. The immune system should fight against the infection. However, you can ease the symptoms using some over-the-counter medications and products such as analgesics, expectorants, decongestants, saline solutions, and more.

Who Should Go for a Flu Shot?

The Flu Isn’t Just a Cold
The change of season especially the transition between autumn and winter make us more vulnerable to the flu virus, which is highly contagious. Flu is a more severe infection compared to the common cold. The symptoms are too sudden that include:


  • Chills

  • Headaches

  • Fever

  • Coughing

  • Severe fatigue

  • General malaise

  • Muscular aches and pains

What Can Be a Complication?

Flu can cause major complications such as pneumonia that may need hospitalization. Even death may occur in some serious cases. Therefore, it’s recommended to get flu shots for people who are considered to be at risk.

Vaccination is the safest way to deal with the flu and its complications. So, we recommend that everyone should consider vaccinating themselves every year. But before taking the vaccination, you should talk to your doctor or pharmacist to know about the pros and cons of it.

Vaccination Candidates
Anyone above 6 months can take the flu shot. But it becomes important if you belong to any of the following groups:

  • People over the age of 75

  • People affected by certain chronic illnesses (heart or lung diseases, diabetes, kidney diseases, HIV, etc.)

  • Young children between the ages of 6 months and 17 years

  • People taking care of a baby under the age of six months

  • Healthcare workers

  • Pregnant, healthy women in the second or third trimester

  • Pregnant women affected by certain chronic illnesses, regardless of the stage of pregnancy

  • Children or adolescents on long-term acetylsalicylic acid therapy

  • People of all ages living in a reception centre or long-term care facility

  • People who are in frequent contact with individuals with a high risk of complications (e.g., family members, caregivers, etc.)

You can ask your pharmacist for further queries.

Spend Your Winter Cold Free

Common Cold - A Frequent Occurrence in the Winter
The common cold is highly contagious. It spreads especially when people meet with each other during the holiday season. People mostly get affected with a cold during the winter, and it cannot be prevented by vaccination. But, once you get infected by a cold, you can rely on your immune system to fight it. Certain measures when taken can also help to strengthen defense mechanisms of the body.

The cold generally gets resolved on its own within a week or two. Some of its symptoms include:

  • Runny nose

  • Sneezing

  • Headache

  • Fever

  • Coughing

  • Nasal congestion

How to Avoid Getting a Cold

Below are some of the tips to reduce the risk of a cold:

  • Choose a healthy and balanced diet

  • Wash your hands often

  • Set aside some time to rest

  • Get adequate sleep

  • Avoid close contact with people who have a cold

  • Reduce stress in your life

  • Avoid smoking and passive smoking as well

Daily cleansing of nasal passages using saline water can be helpful for people of all ages. It is also beneficial for babies and young children who cannot blow their nose. Cleansing the nasal passage helps in reducing risks of otitis, sinusitis, along with sneezing, runny nose and congestion.

Remedies and Medication for Treating a Cold
There is no particular treatment to get rid of the cold. But, you can reduce the symptoms with several over-the-counter measures such as:

  • Taking oral decongestants or inhaling decongestants to reduce or eliminate congestion

  • Having lozenges to relieve sore throat

  • Using expectorants which eliminate the secretions in bronchi

  • Taking analgesics to fight pain and fever

  • Consuming antitussives which eliminate coughing

  • Having antihistamines to control sneezing and runny nose

How to Relieve Nasal Congestion?

Causes of Nasal Congestion

Nasal congestion is caused mostly due to excessive nasal secretions and also due to the swelling of numerous blood vessels in the nose. Due to this, the nasal passages become narrow and are blocked by secretions.

Congestion can be caused due to the following factors:

  • Allergy (due to animal hair, mould, pollens, etc.)

  • Respiratory infections such as sinusitis

  • Use of tobacco

  • Cigarette smoke, chemical products and other irritating agents in the environment

  • Nasal polyps and more

Medications That Can Be Used to Relieve Nasal Congestion

Firstly, the reason for the congestion should be identified and eliminated. If the congestion is due to allergy, the exposure to the allergen should be avoided. For sinus infections, you can take antibiotics. Common cold can be healed only by itself.

Various types of nasal decongestants can be used for nasal congestion, most of which are sold without a prescription. It can be in oral or topical form. You should ask your pharmacist to suggest the one suitable for you, since these medications may not be suitable for everyone.

You can also use topical decongestants, but they can be habit-forming if used for more than five consecutive days. Other medications can also be used for nasal congestion depending on the cause. For example, a nasal corticosteroid spray can be beneficial for people who have seasonal allergies.

Relieving Nasal Congestion in Young Children

Babies in their first year are unable to blow their noses. And nasal congestion can cause them discomfort especially compromising their ability to sleep and eat. But during early childhood, it’s important to ensure that you can clear the little one’s symptoms with a drug-free option.

Best Drug-free Measures 

Some of the drug-free measures to decongest your nasal passage include:

  • Saline solutions can be a great natural nasal decongestant for both young and old. These solutions are available in spray-form, single-dose ampoules, nasal rinses, atomizers, and droppers.

  • Use a humidifier if the air in your home is too dry.

  • Drink a lot of fluids, especially water. Hot drinks such as hot chocolate, tea, and herbal tea can also help in decongestion. These can be ideal for adults, but caution should be taken for children.

  • Certain natural products such as camphor, menthol, and eucalyptus oil can also be used. But, before using the products for small children and babies, always consult a pharmacist or a health practitioner.

Contact us for more information.

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