It’s no secret that influenza (or the flu virus) is highly contagious. While most people recover within a week, influenza can cause serious health complications—especially within healthcare communities like nursing homes. Each year, seasonal strains of the flu can cause approximately 12, 000 Canadians to be hospitalized and are responsible for about 3,500 deaths in Canada. Of course, this makes taking preventative measures all the more important.

As a health care aide, preparing for flu season is important for both you and your clients. Whether you decide to pursue work in a nursing home, retirement community or perhaps provide private home care, read on for some tips that will help you identify flu symptoms and take proper preventative actions.

Influenza: Spotting Symptoms During Your Health Care Aide Career

Influenza can affect people differently, and it has a wide range of symptoms. While some may have very few symptoms or none at all, others it can be severely affected. Some of the most common symptoms include fever, cough, and muscle aches. In some cases, these symptoms can also be accompanied by:

  • Headache
  • Chills
  • Fatigue
  • Sore throat
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nasal congestion (coryza)

While pursuing your education, you’ll learn from various health care programs that the flu virus becomes airborne when people with a flu cough or sneeze, and it can also be transmitted by touching contaminated surfaces, such as door handles.

In rare cases, influenza can lead to further health complications like a respiratory illness. During your health care aide career, you’ll be working with some of the groups at highest risk of influenza-related complications, which include people over 65, chronic care or nursing home residents, and people with cardiac disorders.

Preventing and Controlling Influenza During Your Health Care Aide Career

During your health care aide career, you’ll be expected to receive a flu shot and encourage your clients to receive theirs as well. Health Canada makes it clear that the influenza vaccination is the most effective way to prevent the flu and any complications that may come with it. If you choose to provide private home care to clients, you’ll be helping them get too many of their appointments—be sure to add receiving a flu shot to their “to-do” list!

You will likely come across clients who have influenza during flu season. Professionals understand the importance of wearing a mask during visits with such clients, as doing so will prevent you from spreading the virus to your other clients. You can also use a hand sanitizer or wash your hands with antibacterial soap in between visits. These will kill any traces of the virus you may have picked up.

What To Do If You Catch the Flu During Your Health Care Aide Career

There’s always a chance you’ll catch the virus during flu season, and your best bet is to stay home if this occurs. Doing so will ensure that that you do not spread the flu virus to others. Remember that most people with influenza only suffer through the mild to moderate symptoms, so be sure to get plenty of rest and treat the symptoms until they pass.

It’s also important that you avoid any and all contact with your clients if you get sick. If you find that your flu seems to be lasting a little longer than it should, it’s important that you see a doctor. A doctor may be able to prescribe a flu antiviral medication in order to speed up the recovery process.

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