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What Seniors Should Know About This Year's Flu Season

Feb 15, 2018 by Comfort Keepers Newark, DE

What This Year's Flu Season Looks Like

Flu season this year is not playing around.

Instead of hitting in waves throughout the country, the flu is hitting the entire nation all at once – and it’s still on the rise.

To date, 63 children have died from the flu so far this year. As many as 49,000 people can die from the flu in a given year, and as many as 700,000 sent to the hospital. Though flu season is typically over by the end of February, it may lasts for several more weeks this year.

It’s no reason to panic, necessarily, but it’s important to be on guard and take every preventative measure you can. Seniors especially are at risk for the flu, and from getting sicker than younger bodies.

Here’s what you need to know about the flu, and how to protect yourself:

The Basics of Flu Prevention

An important way of understanding flu prevention is to know how it spreads.

Unfortunately, the flu spreads much more easily than other illnesses. It’s airborne, meaning droplets travel from an infected person through the air onto someone else. This occurs through coughing, sneezing, or not washing your hands and touching surfaces such as light switches, doorknobs, and so forth.

All a healthy individual has to do is be in the vicinity of one of those sneezes or coughs, or touch their mouth or nose after touching an infected surface, and the flu can set in.

Even staying away from those visibly sick is not enough, as the contagion period begins a day before any symptoms appear, and for as long as five days after they’re done being sick.

Once flu symptoms do appear, they can be any of the following:

  • Stuffy nose
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Chills
  • Sore throat
  • Muscle aches
  • Cough

Less common symptoms include diarrhea or nausea, with or without vomiting.

Seniors’ Flu Risk

The flu can be enough to put a healthy adult off of their feet and practically bedbound for a full week.

This means seniors can become much, much sicker, and be out of commission for much longer.

Seniors commonly develop complications from the flu, too, especially if they have any chronic illnesses. Pneumonia is the most common complication of the flu in seniors, and a common cause of death from the flu as well.

Tips For Preventing the Flu In the Elderly

If you haven’t gotten your flu vaccine yet, consider this your wake-up call. It is your best bet at preventing the disease. Even if you do get it, the vaccine can make it less intense, leading to a quicker recovery.

In the elderly, who tend to be dehydrated as it is, the flu makes the dehydration even worse. An important component to both prevention and treatment of the flu, therefore, is to stay hydrated.

Some other prevention tips are:

  • Stay away from large crowds of people
  • Wash your hands throughout the day, especially after using the bathroom and before eating
  • Sanitize surfaces in your home, and wash your hands after touching public surfaces
  • Stay away from sick relatives or friends
  • Eat a healthy diet, full of vitamin C

When it comes down to it, if you are filling ill and you think it’s the flu, it probably is. Go get it checked out immediately to avoid getting severely sick and to stop any complications in their tracks. Even if it ends up being something other than the flu, it’s worthwhile to check – your life could depend on it.

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