When it comes to senior wellness, flu season can be a major hit to one's health. While all seniors are recommended to get a flu shot every year, there are some who will still get ill.
How the flu spreads
Unfortunately, the flu can spread fairly quickly and easily from person to person. This can happen when a person sneezes, coughs or even just through talking. Germs that cause the flu can also be transferred from an object or surface to a person. Touching the face, eyes, nose or mouth after touching a contaminated object or surface can be a jumping point for the flu virus to get into the body. There are other viruses that spread in a similar way.
The flu virus can infect a person fairly quickly, and those afflicted with the virus can spread it to others one day after they get it and up to 5-7 days after they start showing symptoms, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This means it is possible to spread the flu to others without even knowing you are sick. An infected person is advised to stay home for at least 24 hours after they become ill to reduce the risk of spreading it to others.
Who is at risk?
The flu can affect anyone, though it is more dangerous for young children, infants and seniors to be infected. Those with weak immune systems are also at risk for complications from the flu. Fortunately, there are several methods that people can employ to reduce their risk of getting the flu. The CDC recommends that everyone over the age of six months takes steps to prepare for flu season.
- Flu shots
As the best way to protect against the flu, the CDC recommends that every senior gets a new shot every year. As flu strains change from year to year, it is important to get vaccinated against the most common.
- Prevent spreading germs
To cut down on spreading or getting the flu, reduce any opportunities to spread germs. The main methods for reducing the spread of germs have to do with personal hygiene. Washing hands frequently with soap and hot water can reduce contamination. People should also not touch their face, eyes, nose or mouth, as germs can enter the body this way. Contact with sick people should also be avoided, as the flu is often very contagious. Disinfect surfaces and objects that could carry germs. To prevent spreading any germs, be sure to cover your mouth and nose when sneezing or coughing.
- Anti-viral drugs
If you already have the flu or become infected and sick, you can take anti-viral drugs to treat your symptoms. Unlike bacterial infections, viruses like the flu cannot be treated with antibiotics. Anti-viral drugs can only be prescribed by a doctor but can come in pill, liquid or an inhaled powder form. Studies have shown that anti-viral drugs work best when they are taken within two days of getting sick, but they can still be beneficial if taken later – especially for someone who has another health condition or becomes very ill. When taken, these prescriptions can reduce the amount of time a person is sick as well as reduce the risk of complications from the illness.
Anti-viral drugs are only used if a person becomes sick. A flu shot is still the best first-line of defense against the illness. For people who are very sick and need to be hospitalized for their illness, anti-viral medicine can greatly improve their symptoms. Children, pregnant women and seniors can take these prescriptions safely.
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