Elderly with Flu Symptoms – What can you do?

An elderly woman gets a flu vaccine. Find out more about how to reduce risk and take care of flu symptoms if you are an older adult 65 years or older.

Finally! We are seeing some sun peak through the clouds today in the DC metro area. Unfortunately, we are not quite through with flu season. 

Recently, the Senior’s Choice came out with some good tips for the elderly population on how to catch flu symptoms early if you have them, as well as different ways to be proactive about your health so you can avoid it and flu-related complications as much as possible. Flu complications in people 65 years and older can include an increased risk of heart attacks and hospitalization.

If you are elderly with flu symptoms, here are some helpful tips to help you reduce the risks from flu viruses.

Reduce Your Flu Risk with These Simple Guidelines

Know Your Risk

Now, in addition to age, there are other factors that can cause additional flu risks. Other conditions that can put younger and older adults into a more high-risk category for flu complications are:

  • Heart disease
  • Asthma
  • Diabetes
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Live in a nursing home or long-term care facility

Symptoms

So is it the common cold or the influenza virus? Here are some typical flu symptoms to look out for:

  • Rapid changes in temperature – feverish one minute and chills the next
  • Unusual body aches
  • A fever of 100 degrees or higher 

Once you’re diagnosed with the flu, you face a higher risk of potentially life-threatening conditions like pneumonia. Symptoms of pneumonia include:

  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Pain or pressure in the abdomen or chest
  • Confusion, abrupt dizziness and/or violent or continual vomiting
  • Dehydration
  • Worsening of other serious medical conditions, such as heart problems, emphysema or asthma

Flu Prevention

First and foremost, the most effective thing you can do to protect yourself from the flu is to get vaccinated. The influenza vaccination varies from year-to-year, so it’s important that you get your shot annually, preferably sometime in September but before the end of October. Please note that there are also higher dose vaccines available for older adults for added protection.

But what else can you do to avoid the flu, besides getting your flu shot?

The CDC recommends some of the following steps to help boost your immune response and flu risk reduction:

  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth to prevent germ spreading
  • Wash your hands
  • Stay home if you feel sick
  • Avoid contact with those who are ill
  • Regularly clean frequently-touched surfaces
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes with your elbow

Flu season or not, you want to keep your immune system finely tuned year-round. Here here are some habits that can help you feel good and maintain your edge, whether or not there’s something going around:

  • Build up your immune system with lots of sleep
  • A healthy diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables
  • Exercise regularly
  • Vitamins

Taking Care of Yourself If You’re Sick

What if you’ve been diagnosed with the flu? The important thing first and foremost is to listen to your doctor and follow their advice.

However, there are a few common sense remedies and things you can do that will help you build up your strength and feel as good as possible while you’re sick:

  • Eat something with protein, like lentils or chicken soup
  • Drink plenty of fluids to help prevent dehydration and to loosen secretions, making it easier to bring up phlegm
  • Prop yourself up in bed, rather than lay flat on your back to try and help the breathing
  • Blow your nose (gently) to keep phlegm from bouncing back into your ear passage, causing ear infections
  • Use menthol ointment to help break up coughs and clear congestion
  • Warm walt water: use it as a throat gargle or nasal spray to soothe sore throats and clear sinuses
  • Moist heat: hot liquids and steamy showers are both great ways to help keep your nasal passages and throat hydrated, and can provide soothing relief
  • Stay warm: Did you know that fevers are actually a sign that your body is fighting a virus? They aren’t always fun, but they can serve their purpose. Therefore, when you first come down with a cold or flu, it’s important to stay warm to give your immune system a hand.

Ask Your Doctor

These are just a few tips that might be able to help get you through the last of this cold weather and the roller coaster of winter illnesses. However, the most important thing is always to check in with your primary care provider! 

If you notice flu symptoms, and are 65 years or older or have other high risk factors, it’s important to get in touch with your doctor right away. If you’re already sick, while these tips may be able to help, it’s key that you run things by your doctor if you’re unsure. 

Hang tight everyone, spring is on its way!! We hope….

-Georgetown Home Care