The change means that 46 per cent of U.S. adults, many of them under the age of 45, now will be considered hypertensive

The nation’s heart experts tightened the guidelines for high blood pressure Monday, a change that will sharply increase the number of U.S. adults considered hypertensive in the hope that they, and their doctors, will address the deadly condition sooner.

Acting for the first time in 14 years, the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology redefined high blood pressure as a reading of 130 over 80, down from 140 over 90. The change means that 46 per cent of U.S. adults, many of them under the age of 45, now will be considered hypertensive. Under the previous guideline, 32 per cent of U.S. adults had high blood pressure.

“We’re recognizing that blood pressures that we in the past thought were normal or so-called ‘pre-hypertensive’ actually placed the patient at significant risk for heart disease and death and disability,” said Robert M. Carey, co-chairman of the group that produced the new report. “The risk hasn’t changed. What’s changed is our recognition of the risk.”

But the report’s authors predicted that relatively few of those who fall into the new hypertensive category will need medication. Rather, they hope, that many found with the early stages of the condition will be able to address it through lifestyle changes such as improving their diet, getting more exercise, consuming less alcohol and sodium and lowering stress.

The new guidelines will be influential in clinical practice, with most health care providers expected to follow the research-based recommendations from leading voices in cardiovascular medicine. In addition to tightening the definition of high blood pressure, the new report does away with the old category of “pre-hypertension,” which was defined as a top (systolic) reading of 120 to 139 or a bottom (diastolic) number between 80 and 89.

“An important cornerstone of these new guidelines is a strong emphasis on lifestyle changes as the first line of therapy. There is an opportunity to reduce risk without necessarily imposing medications,” said Richard Chazal, the immediate past president of the American College of Cardiology.

Instead, the guidelines create new categories of blood pressure, including “elevated,” “Stage 1 and 2 hypertension,” and “hypertensive crisis,” each characterized by various blood pressure readings. Normal blood pressure still will be considered 120 over 80.

The systolic reading refers to the pressure when the heart contracts and sends blood through the arteries. Diastolic pressure is measured when the heart relaxes between beats.

In 2010, high blood pressure was the leading cause of death worldwide and the second-leading cause of preventable death in the United States, after cigarette smoking.

Hypertension leads to cardiovascular disease, strokes, severe kidney disease and other maladies that kill millions of Americans every year. Blood pressure is affected by a wide variety of factors including genetics, age, diet, exercise, stress and other diseases such as diabetes. Men are more likely to have high blood pressure than women and blacks are more likely than whites. Many people are unaware that they have the condition because there are no symptoms.

Much of the data to support the update came from Systolic Blood Pressure Intervention Trial or SPRINT trial, a large-scale study of more than 9,000 people sponsored by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. When the results were first presented in 2015, they shook many assumptions about blood pressure management.

The study showed that bringing blood pressure below 120 versus the recommended 140 to 150 could reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke. While that research only included people 50 and older and at high risk for heart problems, subsequent studies have shown this benefit appears to extend to younger people as well, said Chazal who is medical director at the Lee Memorial Health System in Fort Myers, Fla.

It is not easy to take drugs for the rest of your life for a condition you are not sick from. There is a reason it’s known as the silent killer

Thomas Frieden, the former director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention who now runs a global health initiative that focuses on heart disease and stroke, said that the “big news about this guideline is it should end forever any debate about whether people should be treated with medicines once they hit 140/90.” He said that until now there has been “a perspective that it’s not that big of a risk, but that’s just wrong.”

“The fact is lower is better,” Frieden said, “Even what we considered mild hypertension before is a deadly disease.”

Calling hypertension “the world’s most under-addressed preventable health problem,” Frieden said that, ironically, one of the reasons treatment has been slow to catch on in some parts of the world is because the medications are not as profitable as many others. The four main classes of drugs for blood pressure have generic versions and can be as cheap as a few dollars a month. Another barrier is what he called “therapeutic inertia,” the reluctance of some physicians and patients to try medication when a person with high blood pressure appears to be otherwise healthy.

“It is not easy to take drugs for the rest of your life for a condition you are not sick from,” he explained. “There is a reason it’s known as the silent killer.”

Originally Posted: Washington Post Lenny Bernstein and Ariana Eunjung Cha –

Symptoms include: fever, chills, sore throat, dizziness, confusion, severe pain, redness and swelling

Health officials have issued an alert, saying nine people have died in an ongoing invasive group A streptococcus outbreak in the London area.

The outbreak was declared more than 18 months ago and the Middlesex-London Health Unit says more than 132 cases of infection have been reported since April 1, 2016.

Of the cases, 22 per cent required treatment in intensive care, 15 per cent had Streptococcal Toxic Shock Syndrome and 15 per cent had necrotizing fasciitis – also called “flesh-eating” disease.

Associate Medical Officer of Health Dr. Gayane Hovhannisyan said about half of the cases have been among injection drug users and/or people without access to stable housing.


Symptoms depend on the site of the infection and may include fever, chills, sore throat, dizziness, confusion, severe pain, redness or swelling around a wound or injured area.

Hovhannisyan said the alert has been issued because the health unit is seeing an increase in infections among people who have no connection to the outbreak.

“We need a better understanding of what’s happening, which is why we’ve issued this alert,” she said Monday in a news release.


The bacteria are spread by direct contact with nose and throat secretions from an infected person, or by direct contact with infected wounds or sores on the skin.

While the infections can occur year-round, the health unit said Monday that the number of infections tends to increase during the winter.

It said the majority of streptococcus infections cause relatively mild illnesses like strep throat, but sometimes more serious and potentially life-threatening infections are able to get into muscles, blood and other organs.

The health unit advises regular hand washing, covering the mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing, avoid sharing drinking and eating utensils and to not share drug paraphernalia in an effort to avoid infection.

Originally Published: The Canadian Press

Dress warmly, work out inside, and get enough vitamin D. These are some of the ways you can get arthritis pain relief despite the bone-chilling cold of winter weather.

By Madeline R. Vann, MPH
Medically Reviewed by Lindsey Marcellin, MD, MPH

Many people with arthritis swear by the pain in their joints as a predictor of rainy or cold weather. “I used to hear people complain all the time that they knew rain was coming from the aching in their knees,” says Pam Snow, 54, of Denver, who has arthritis. “Now I’m one of those people!”
Snow has osteoarthritis in both knees. She typically manages her pain with exercise, diet, weight loss, and the occasional over-the-counter pain reliever, but when winter weather sets in, Snow faces an extra joint-pain challenge. “I think it’s related to barometric pressure,” she says. “It definitely has made me more cognizant of the weather.”

For Snow, arthritis isn’t just a personal problem. As vice president for community involvement for the Colorado Arthritis Foundation, she travels the state educating others about the condition. So she’s aware that there’s very little scientific evidence to support her own experience, and that of the legions of others with arthritis who feel worse when the weather is frightful.

“In terms of really trying to scientifically study it, [research] is rather sparse and contradictory,” says rheumatologist Bonita S. Libman, MD, professor of medicine and division chief of rheumatology and clinical immunology at the University of Vermont College of Medicine in Burlington. Yet a lot of people do feel that weather affects their symptoms, Dr. Libman adds.
In fact, she says there may be some truth to the old wives’ tale that aching joints indicate a change in weather. According to some old studies Libman is familiar with, and which the Arthritis Foundation cites, people in barometric pressure chambers found that the lower the pressure, the more aches and pains they felt.

How to Find Arthritis Relief

Whether the joint pain/weather connection is scientifically true or not, you can still use these arthritis pain-relief tips when your aching joints act up in winter.

1. Dress Warmly

If it’s cold outside, keep aching hands warm with gloves, and add extra layers over knees and legs. “I’m one of those people who loves to wear dresses and skirts,” Snow says, “so when it’s cold, I also wear tights or leggings to stay warm.”

2. Layer Up

Snow, who moved from Birmingham, Alabama, to Denver, says she loves being active in the Colorado weather, but knows it’s important to wear lots of layers so she can control her comfort level when temperatures shift dramatically during the day. For example, she layers a few pairs of gloves on her hands and can peel them off, one by one, as needed.

3. Hydrate

Snow found that when she moved to the drier climate of Colorado, she started drinking more water. “I really think [staying hydrated] has helped me stay active,” she says. Even mild dehydration might make you more sensitive to pain, according to study results published in the September 2015 issue of Experimental Physiology.

4. Lose Weight

When Snow moved to Colorado in 2013, she weighed 172 pounds, and her new doctor told her that at 5’6” she was obese.

“I heard that ‘O’ word and I thought, well, I don’t feel like I’m obese. I was always watching my weight by how my clothes fit,” she says. At that time, she comfortably wore a size 14. But she committed to losing weight and now clocks in at about 158 pounds and wears a size 10. She credits the more physically active culture of Colorado for some of her success. “There’s always someone to walk with,” she says.

And, as her activity levels went up and her weight went down, her arthritis improved, even in cold weather. Indeed, a 2013 article in The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) highlighted the significant improvement people with knee arthritis can get from weight loss, from diet, and exercise.

5. Exercise Inside

While it’s understandable to want to avoid winter chill, people with joint pain should still stay active. The less sedentary you are, the better your physical function, according to a study of people with knee arthritis published in Arthritis Care & Research in March 2015. Come up with an indoor exercise plan. Snow has a treadmill and an elliptical trainer at home. Libman recommends walking the mall.


6. Let Warm Water Comfort You

Swimming in a heated pool is both great exercise and soothing to joints. You can also get relief from warm baths, according to the Arthritis Foundation. Just don’t go right out into the cold after your soak. Let your body temperature normalize a bit first.

7. Supplement Vitamin D

Low levels of vitamin D might play a role in how sensitive you are to arthritis pain, according to research in the September 2015 issue of Pain Management. Being deficient in vitamin D also raises the risk for osteoporosis, Libman warns. You’re less likely to get enough vitamin D from its natural source, sunlight, in the winter, so talk to your doctor about your need for supplements or vitamin D-fortified foods.

8. Stay Safe

Particularly when the weather turns icy, people with arthritis need to protect their joints from further damage. If you’re going outside, pick solid, supportive shoes with good treads and try to walk on a surface that doesn’t look slick, Libman advises.

9. Try a Glucosamine-Chondroitin Supplement

Although no herbal supplements have been proven to provide arthritis pain relief in clinical studies, and the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) does not recommend glucosamine-chondroitin for arthritis, Libman says that some of her patients do report relief from taking these supplements. “What I tell my patients is, if they can afford to pay for it and they want to give it a try, it seems to be a low-risk therapy for pain,” she says.

10. Add Fish Oil

“Omega-3 fatty acids do have some benefit because they seem to reduce the level of inflammation,” Libman says. The Arthritis Foundation recommends up to 2.6 grams of fish oil capsules twice a day. Make sure to let your doctor know if you try omega-3s, as they can increase the risk for bruising or bleeding.

11. Consider Acetaminophen or NSAIDs

Even if, like Snow, you prefer to treat your joint pain with lifestyle changes rather than medication, you may want to take an over-the-counter pain reliever when your joint pain seems to worsen with the weather. The ACR guidelines include a recommendation to use these over-the-counter pain relievers for osteoarthritis. However, Libman says that, “to avoid side effects, take the lowest dose for the shortest amount of time, and always check with your doctor first to make sure it is safe for you to take.”

12. Get a Massage

Yes, you have permission to indulge yourself and get a massage. “A lot of what’s happening in terms of pain is [that] some is emanating from the joint and some from the muscles around the joint,” Libman explains. Getting an hour-long massage once a week for at least eight weeks was shown to reduce pain, according to research in the June 2015 issue of The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine.

13. Go Under the Needle

Acupuncture is another option for those willing to consider non-traditional treatments. “It does seem patients derive some benefit with regard to pain,” Libman says. You also might find the process relaxing and feel generally healthier, according to research in the August 2015 issue of The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine.

Originally Posted:

Almost 1.5 million Ontarians have diabetes. Most can lead healthy lives if they:

  • eat a balanced diet
  • exercise regularly
  • maintain a healthy weight
  • manage blood glucose levels, taking insulin if needed

Ontario offers a number of programs to help people with diabetes improve their quality of life and avoid complications.

If not treated or properly managed, diabetes can cause a number of serious health problems. These include heart disease and stroke, kidney disease, eye disease, erectile dysfunction (impotence), and nerve damage.



The Diabetes and You Tool Kit – A diabetes tutorial with easy-to understand fact sheets and short videos to help you manage your disease. You can order the Kit through Service Ontario.

Diabetes fact sheets, organized by topics are available to download in 13 languages. Watch these diabetes videos for tips from experts to help you lead a healthier life.

Who is more likely to get diabetes?

You are more likely to get diabetes if you:

  • are of Aboriginal, Asian, South Asian or African descent
  • are overweight (especially if you carry most of your weight around your middle)
  • have a parent, brother or sister with diabetes
  • have health complications associated with diabetes, such as eye, nerve or kidney problems
  • gave birth to a baby weighing more than 4 kg (9 lbs)
  • had diabetes while you were pregnant
  • have a history of impaired glucose tolerance, impaired fasting glucose or pre-diabetes
  • have high blood pressure
  • have high cholesterol or other high levels of fats in the blood
  • use glucocorticoid medication
  • have been diagnosed with any of the following conditions:
    • polycystic ovary syndrome
    • acanthosis nigricans (darkened patches of skin)
    • schizophrenia
    • obstructive sleep apnea

Diabetes symptoms

You can get diabetes even if you don’t have any of the common risk factors in the list above.

If you are developing diabetes or high blood glucose, your body will often show signs like:

  • feeling more thirsty
  • frequent urination
  • a sudden weight gain or loss
  • low energy or feeling more tired than usual
  • blurred vision
  • frequent or repeat infections
  • injuries, such as cuts and bruises, that are slow to heal
  • tingling or no feeling in your hands or feet
  • trouble getting or maintaining an erection

If you have symptoms like these, talk to your health care provider.

– Originally published at:

Reasons to Get Your Flu Shot:

To get vaccinated or not… that is the question Canadians ask every Fall. Here are a few reasons why you might consider getting a flu shot this year.


“The flu? I’ll be just fine after a few days of rest.” That might be true for the common cold, but the flu is much more seriousIf you get the influenza virus, you’re likely to experience high fevers, extreme fatigue, muscle aches and severe headaches, in addition to the usual cough and stuffy nose. Sounds fun, right? The flu shot is the best way to protect you and your family against getting the flu in the first place.


The flu virus circulates all around the world, and evolves very quickly. So quickly, in fact, that new strains of the flu are constantly emerging. Every year, scientists and health experts create a new flu vaccine designed to fight the most prevalent flu strains. This means old vaccines won’t properly protect you against this year’s influenza virus.2 You need to get the best protection for this current flu season.


Not everyone is well equipped to overcome the flu. Some groups, such as infants, seniors, and those with weakened immune systems, are much more vulnerable to getting the flu. By not getting the flu shot, you’re increasing their chances of getting sick as well. The more people that are protected against the flu, the less the virus can spread. Of course, members of at-risk groups are encouraged to get flu shots, but some, such as babies under the age of 6 months, can’t be vaccinated. To minimize their risk of getting sick, you can do your part by getting the flu shot. You won’t just be protecting yourself, but you’ll also help protect others around you.


Getting a flu shot is quick and easy; click on the following site: to find a place near you to get protected against the flu orcome into our clinic today

Originally posted on:

Fall can bring on more than beautiful colours, cooler temperatures and shorter days – the shift in weather can lead to a dip in mood and energy.

Routines take over and there’s less time for outdoor activities and down time. Warm, sunny summer days are replaced by stress-inducing traffic jams, mood-bashing deadlines and ferrying kids to endless activities. The mere thought of upcoming wintry weather puts a chill on autumn.

There just ain’t no sunshine when the sun is gone! Thankfully, for most people it won’t reach a diagnosable Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) level – a mood disorder related to the change in seasons – but there are definite changes that happen in the fall to impact our energy, mood, metabolism and sleep habits.

First off, not all things are bad in the fall, stresses Dr. Natasha Turner. “Our testosterone increases so, therefore, so does our sex drive, and fertility appears to be best in October to December. Our memory and our focus can also improve in the fall and winter.”

What does suffer is our serotonin levels, the happy hormone that is naturally produced more when we have warmer weather and more sun exposure. These naturally begin to decline and melatonin, the hormone that controls our sleep, increases, which can lead to sleeping more and a decreased mood, says Turner, a naturopathic doctor at and author of The Hormone Boost.

And although we sleep more in October than other months, the quality and depth of sleep suffer, so you may end up feeling groggy during the day.

“This is because the shorter days equal less exposure to sunlight, so a simple solution is to use a sunlamp in the morning,” says Turner. Consider St. John’s Wort to help boost serotonin, and make sure you’re getting enough vitamin D.

Plan for your metabolism to drop too. “Unfortunately, our master of metabolism – thyroid hormone – naturally drops in the cold, darker days of autumn and winter. Since thyroid hormone controls the energy and metabolism of every cell in your body, a thyroid boost is essential to beat fall fatigue.”

Boost your metabolism with a good breakfast, including 30 grams of protein and forgoing starchy carbohydrates like toast, cereal or bagels. Go for two eggs with goat cheese and tomatoes; one natural chicken sausage with one egg; a fruit free smoothie including chocolate whey protein, hemp hearts, baby spinach, cinnamon and coconut milk.

Get set for your waistline to widen. You may find yourself more vulnerable to the call of comfort foods to help boost serotonin levels back to what feels normal, but since that increase in appetite generally coincides with less daylight to exercise, seasonal weight gain is common, says Turner.

To beat back pounds, don’t exercise longer. Instead increase the intensity of your workouts but keep the sessions less than 40 minutes, with interval training, cycling, sprinting, etc. “It’s perfect for fat loss and won’t tend to increase your hunger or your stress hormones.”

There’s more: Studies directly link falling temperatures and increased intensity of joint pain. Plus it can all be one big headache – a fall in barometer pressure, a sudden increase in humidity or drop in temperatures can trigger migraines.

Finally, get set for fall allergy symptoms to flourish. As the seasons change, ragweed plants spew billions of pollen grains until November or the first frost of the year. Hay fever can impact mood and activity so be sure to treat symptoms with medications. Nasal symptoms are typically treated with an over-the-counter non-drowsy oral antihistamine or a steroid nasal spray such as Flonase.

· Get outside. Studies show that just a few minutes of fresh air can lift your spirits and mood. A study published in the Journal of Consumer Psychology revealed that people felt more positive in outdoor light so head out for a quick walk on your lunch hour.

· Find some fall-themed activities and make a move on pumpkin picking, corn mazes and fall hikes. Even when it’s cold and rainy, you’ll still get some exposure to UV rays, which can help boost your mood and regulate your body’s circadian rhythm.

· Peel away the blues: The smell of this citrus fruit is one of the most mood-enhancing around, according to a study published in Chemical Sciences. So grab yourself some Florida sunshine – orange you glad you know this!

· Hack into your happy chemicals by moving your body. Research by the British Journal of Sports Medicine reveals that a mere 20 minutes of physical activity can impact mood.

· Get rid of clutter. Visual chaos may seem harmless but the disarray, disorganization and mess is stressful and brings people down. Studies show that when people are in aesthetically pleasing, organized and uncluttered surroundings, they feel more relaxed and content.

· Focus on what’s going well. It’s impossible to be unhappy when you’re feeling grateful. Before you go to sleep every night, write down in a journal three things that you appreciated most about the day. You’ll fall asleep on a positive note and will be more likely to wake up feeling optimistic about the day ahead.

Don’t let your health get tricked this Halloween! Here are a few ways to stay safe and healthy.

1. Get Moving

Carve out time to be active this Halloween – between get-togethers and trick-or-treating in the neighborhood. Take a walk and do some weight training to help you feel good!

Regular physical activity can help control your weight, reduce your risk of heart disease and some cancers, improve mental health and mood, and increase your chance of living longer.

Three children with pumpkins

2. Eat Well

Don’t spend this Halloween filling up on junk food and sweets. Give yourself and your guests healthier choices and nutritious treats.

Fruits and vegetables are part of a well-balanced and healthy eating plan. Fruits and vegetables also provide essential vitamins and minerals, fiber, and other substances that are important for good health.

3. Keep Your and Your Family’s Bite Healthy

Keep Halloween candy at bay. Care for teeth the right way – brush with a flouride toothpaste each and every day.

Tooth decay (cavities) is one of the most common chronic conditions of childhood in the United States. Untreated tooth decay can cause pain and infections that may lead to problems with eating, speaking, playing, and learning.

4. Play it Safe

Take precautions to stay safe while trick-or-treating on Halloween night. Watch out for cars, use reflective gear, walk with a group, and carry a flash light.

Check out CDC’s Injury Center for tips to stay safe at home, on the road, and at play.

5. Scare Away the Flu and Colds

Don’t get spooked by the flu, wash your hands frequently and get a flu vaccine, too!

Everyone 6 months and older should get a flu vaccine each year. Get vaccinated to protect yourself and your loved ones and learn about good health habitsthat can help stop germs.

6. Don’t Be a Zombie

Sleep is important – even on Halloween! Adults need 7-8 hours each night. It’s best for staying healthy and helping the disease fight!

Insufficient sleep is linked to an increased risk for the development of Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and obesity.

7. Be Afraid of Smoking

Keep your Halloween activities smoke and tobacco free. Being smoke free is the way to be!

Smoking harms nearly every organ of the body, causing many diseases. Get help to quit smoking.

Originally Posted on:

Start making healthy choices

Healthy changes don’t happen overnight. But you can start making healthier choices for you and your family today. Even small changes will have you on your way towards a healthier tomorrow.

Four key areas where Ontario’s public health units work to support choices for healthy living include:

  1. healthy eating
  2. food safety
  3. hand washing
  4. active living

Making choices to improve your health will:

  • make you feel better
  • reduce stress
  • prevent diseases

Healthy eating

Eating well is one of the most important things you can do to keep you and your family healthy. It can help protect you from heart disease and stroke. It can lower your risk of type 2 diabetes and some kinds of cancer. It can also stop bone loss as you age.

Programs and resources to help people in the province eat healthy include:

  • EatRight Ontario
  • Northern Fruit and Vegetable Program

EatRight Ontario

This free service can help you eat and cook in a healthier way.

You can:

  1. call a dietitian toll-free at 1-877-510-510 – Option 2
  2. email a dietitian to get answers to your nutrition and healthy eating questions
  3. visit EatRight Ontario for:
    • articles on food and nutrition
    • meal planning advice
    • healthy eating tips
    • recipes

Northern Fruit and Vegetable Program

This program brings healthy, nutritious food to elementary and intermediate school students in the districts of Algoma, Porcupine and Sudbury. The Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Growers’ Association coordinates delivery of fruits and vegetables to students at least twice a week from January to June.

Algoma Public Health, Porcupine Health Unit and Sudbury and District Health Unit work with schools in their regions. The program reaches over 190 schools and approximately 37,000 students.

The goal is to teach children and their families the benefits that fruits and vegetables, healthy eating and physical activity have on their overall health and to encourage them to eat more of these healthy foods.

Tips for healthy eating

Food safety

Food safety in Ontario is shared by all levels of government — federal, provincial and municipal. There are three ministries responsible for food safety in the province:

What causes food poisoning

You and your family can get food poisoning when you eat contaminated food. You can’t smell or see these toxins. But they multiply quickly and can make you sick.

Seniors, young children, pregnant women and people with weakened immune systems, are more likely to become sick.

Signs and symptoms of food poisoning

You may have food poisoning if you have some or all of these symptoms:

  • upset stomach with nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps, stomach pain
  • diarrhea
  • fever

Contaminated food can make you sick anywhere from hours to weeks after eating it. Most people get sick within a couple of days.

Read more about illnesses from food

What to do if you think you have food poisoning

  • seek medical care as soon as possible
  • notify your local public health unit immediately

How to make a complaint about food safety

Contact your local health authorities for concerns about:

Tips to prevent food poisoning

Hand washing

Washing your hands is important to keeping you and your family healthy. Follow these important tips:

  • wash your hands often and carefully — at least 15 seconds for each part
  • remove jewellery and keep nails short

Active living

People who are physically active live longer and healthier lives. They are less likely to develop heart disease and other chronic health problems. Regular physical activity leads to a better quality of life. And, it helps lower the cost of health care in the province.

Ontario’s public health units offer programs that can help you learn to eat healthier, be more active and prevent chronic diseases.

Learn more about the programs offered by public health units

Find a public health office

Exercise tips

More tips for getting active at any age

Watch-and-learn video tips on fitness and activity

How much you should exercise

The Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology has set out physical activity guidelines that tell you how often you should exercise.

Physical activity guidelines for every age

Originally Posted on:

 The flu (influenza) is a contagious virus that anyone can get. But there are several things you can do to protect yourself from catching it, or spreading it to others.

Where to get the flu shot near you

The flu shot is your best defense

The flu shot is:

  • safe (including for kids and if you are pregnant or breastfeeding)
  • free
  • available from your doctor or nurse practitioner, and at participating pharmacies and local public health units across the province
  • proven to reduce the number of doctor visits, hospitalizations and deaths related to the flu
  • different each year  because the virus changes frequently – so you need to get it every fall

Flu season runs from late fall to early spring. Be sure to get your shot as soon as it is available  because it takes two weeks to take effect.

Get the flu shot

Other tips to avoid getting – and spreading – the virus

washing hands under a tap with bubbles

Wash your hands often

  • even after getting the flu shot, washing with soap and water for at least 15 seconds helps prevent the spread of the virus, which can live on your hands for up to 3 hours
  • if soap and water are not available, use a hand sanitizer (gel or wipes) with at least 60% alcohol
person coughing into their sleeve

Cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze

  • use a tissue and throw it out rather than putting it in your pocket, on a desk or table
  • if you don’t have a tissue, cough into your upper sleeve
keep your hands out of eyes, nose and mouth

Don’t touch your face

  • the flu virus spreads when people with the flu cough, sneeze or talk and droplets enter your body through your eyesnose or mouth
avoid crowds and your workplace

Stay at home when you’re sick

  • viruses spread more easily in group settings, such as businesses, schools and nursing homes
wiping down a surface

Clean (and disinfect) surfaces and shared items

  • viruses live on hard surfaces like countertops, door handles, computer keyboards and phones for up to 8 hours

Who is most at risk

Complications from the flu can include pneumonia, which is a serious illness. Flu causes about 12,200 hospitalizations and 3,500 deaths in Canada each year.

Some people are more vulnerable to complications or hospitalization from the flu:

  • Babies under 6 months are too young to get the flu shot, but they’ll get some protection if their parent gets the flu shot while pregnant
  • Children under five years of age  because their immune systems are developing, and their airways are small and more easily blocked
  • People over 65 years old, because their immune systems are weaker and they may have an underlying condition that increases their risk
  • Pregnant people, because their immune system, heart and lungs change – especially later in pregnancy – and makes it harder to fight infection
  • People with underlying health conditions, such as asthma, heart disease or diabetes


Symptoms typically appear 1 to 4 days after you’ve been exposed to the virus – but it’s contagious right away, so you can still catch it from someone who shows no symptoms yet.

Most otherwise-healthy people will recover within 7 to 10 days.

You may have caught the flu if you have:

  • fever
  • chills
  • cough
  • runny eyes
  • stuffy nose
  • sore throat
  • headache
  • muscle aches
  • extreme weakness and tiredness
  • loss of appetite

Some people may have diarrhea or vomit, though this is more common in children than adults

Flu vs. common cold

The symptoms of the flu and the common cold can be very similar but, unlike a case of the common cold, the flu can lead to serious health problems like pneumonia.

Use this chart to help determine if you have a cold or the flu.

Symptom Cold Flu
Fever Rare Common, high (102°F – 104°F or 39°C – 40°C). Starts suddenly, lasts 3 to 4 days. Not all people with flu
General aches and pains Sometimes, mild Common, often severe
Muscle aches Sometimes, usually mild Often, can be severe
Feeling tired and weak Sometimes, mild Common, may last 2 to 3 weeks or more
Fatigue (extreme tiredness) Unusual Common, starts early
Sneezing Common Sometimes
Complications Can lead to sinus congestion or earache Can lead to pneumonia and respiratory failure, worsen a current chronic respiratory condition, be life-threatening
Chest discomfort and/or coughing Sometimes, mild to moderate Common, can become severe

If you get the flu

Be sure to:

  • stay home and get plenty of rest
  • drink lots of fluids
  • avoid caffeine
  • speak to your doctor or nurse practitioner about over-the-counter medications that can help you feel better (basic pain or fever relievers), but do not give acetylsalicylic acid (ASA or Aspirin®) to children or teenagers under the age of 18
  • treat muscle pain using a hot water bottle or heating pad — apply heat for short periods of time
  • take a warm bath
  • gargle with a glass of warm salt water or suck on hard candy or lozenges
  • use spray or saline drops for a stuffy nose
  • avoid alcohol and tobacco

Call your doctor or nurse practitioner if:

  • you don’t start to feel better after a few days
  • your symptoms get worse
  • you are in a high-risk group and develop flu symptoms

You can also call Telehealth at 1-866-797-0000 to talk to a registered nurse 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You do not need to provide your OHIP number and all information is confidential.

Posted originally on: