If you watch or read the news, you may have noticed that experts have been trying to warn the public about a flu epidemic here in America. In fact, the CDC has said that this is the “number of people going to see doctors for [the flu] is at its highest rate since the 2009 swine flu outbreak.”
According to CNN, there have been 11,965 confirmed flu-related hospitalizations across the country reported between Oct. 1, 2017 and Jan. 20, 2018. This is the first time in 13 years of flu monitoring that every part of the continental U.S. showed widespread flu activity, confirmed in a media statement from the CDC. What is particularly troubling is the way this year’s flu has disproportionately affected children and older adults.
Although no one is exempt from catching the flu, due to weakened defenses of the human immune system that happen with age, seniors typically account for more than half of flu-related hospitalizations caused by influenza and more than 80 percent of flu-related deaths. Symptoms have even been mimicking the common cold this year, creating a slower chain reaction for people to seek medical attention.
Flu Symptoms In The Elderly
For many years, it has been common knowledge that people over the age of 65, along with pregnant women and children under 5, are more vulnerable to the flu each season. For this 2017-18 season, that warning has become more pronounced, as it’s estimated by the CDC that between 71 and 85 percent of seasonal flu-related deaths have occurred in people 65 years and older. It’s important to educate yourself about the variety of flu symptoms in the elderly in order for you to receive medical intervention immediately—
If you are experiencing any of the below flu symptoms, you should consult with your doctor:
Chills and fatigue
Shortness of breath
Runny or stuffy nose
Fever, sweating and shaking chills
Nausea, vomiting or diarrhea
Confusion or changes in mental awareness
Don’t wait until it’s too late.
Flu Virus Can Trigger a Heart Attack
The seasonal flu has been linked to causing cardiovascular deaths, specifically for older adults. An epidemiologist and family physician with the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences shared in an NPR article, “We found that you’re six times more likely to have a heart attack during the week after being diagnosed with influenza, compared to the year before or after the infection.”
When you have the flu, stress and inflammation are increased while oxygen levels and blood pressure are decreased. These body changes can increase your risk of forming blood clots that serve the heart, ultimately causing a heart attack.
If you are also someone at risk for heart disease with high blood pressure, high cholesterol or diabetes, you are more likely to experience a heart attack after recovering from the flu. Stay alert by learning about the common heart attack symptoms on our blog.
Preventing The Flu In Seniors This Season
While this year’s flu does seem like an epidemic, there are actions you can take to help prevent contracting the flu. To help boost your immune system and reduce exposure to germs, here are 5 flu prevention health tips:
Get Your Flu Shot: It’s not too late. If it does not prevent you from catching flu, the shot may lessen its severity.
Wash and Sanitize: It takes at least 20 seconds of rubbing your hands together with soap to eliminate germs. If soap and water is out of reach, use hand sanitizer. Additionally, sanitize your mobile devices, computer mouse and keyboard often.
Clean Your Home: Use disinfectant when cleaning your environment to eliminate germs, especially paying attention to areas where people often touch including doorknobs, light switches and counters.
Exercise Regularly: Moderate exercise boosts your immune system, reducing the risk of a cold. Check out our recent Indoor Exercises for Cold Weather blog post for workout ideas and inspiration.
Drink Liquids: Water and hot tea help your nasal passages to stay moist and trap germs before spreading into the body.
Although there are a number of health concerns associated with aging, you will have one less concern when choosing Medical Guardian. Whether you’re looking for an in-home system or a mobile device, Medical Guardian is guaranteed to have the reliable and affordable product that fits your independent lifestyle.
Get the Emergency Help You Need
As your medical alert device provider, Medical Guardian is there for your protection around the clock, for any reason-- not only if you were to experience a fall.
With this year’s flu season as fierce as it is, we encourage you to press your medical alert device button if you experience any of the above symptoms and need help immediately. As older adults are more likely to have implications from the flu, it’s safer to get checked by a professional to make symptoms more bearable and lower your risk of a hospital visit.