We are in the throws of the flu season and unfortunately the U.S. is experiencing a ‘moderate-severe’ outbreak for 2017-2018.  According to the CDC, ‘ 71 percent and 85 percent of seasonal flu-related deaths have occurred in people 65 years and older and between 54 percent and 70 percent of seasonal flu-related hospitalizations have occurred among people in that age group. In a bad year, it kills up to 56,000.

People who suffer from Diabetes, Asthma, Chronic Heart Disease or other chronic ailments are also at a higher risk of contracting the flu—these conditions can compromise the immune system making this subset more likely to suffer from a serious illness and complications.

Once an older adult begins to experience any type of flu symptom, it is essential to start an antiviral drug as soon as possible—this can mean the difference between having just mild flu symptoms and sustaining a serious illness that can land someone in the hospital. The CDC, however, suggest that the best way to prevent the flu is by getting a flu shot.

Not only is it crucial to get that flu shot, but it is essential to engage in healthy habits, such as frequent hand washing, avoiding people who are sick or at high risk of getting sick. Avoiding the touching of your eyes, nose and mouth is a good practice, as well. Be sure to clean and disinfect your countertops and all surfaces.

Symptoms of the flu are different than the common cold—the flu comes on suddenly with a fever and the common cold usually comes on gradually and rarely produces a fever. The following are symptoms of the flu:

·      Fever/chills: Wrap yourself in a warm blanket or shawl, wear warm socks and stay inside!

·      Sore throat, cough or chest heaviness: Consider using some warm packs on your chest to loosen up phlegm or to just experience the comfort of the heat.

·      Runny or stuffy nose: Consider propping yourself up in bed to let your nasal passages drain more easily and to ease the sinus discomfort.

·      Body and muscle aches: Over the counter analgesics can sometimes help with these symptoms but taking an antiviral medication will help to lessen the severity of the flu symptoms.

·       Severe fatigue: Get into bed and cuddle up with your favorite pillow and get rest!

If you are a high risk individual, over the age of 65 and have a compromised immune system, getting a flu shot can help you to avert a severe illness or even death.

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