Each year in the United States, over 200,000 people are hospitalized because of the influenza virus, and about 36,000 people die from the virus. Senior adults are one of the most at-risk groups for catching the flu. Here are some flu facts that all seniors should know that could help you stay healthy during the holiday season.
Am I at Risk?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the groups who are at the highest risk of catching the flu are adults ages 65 and older and children younger than age 5. Residents of long-term care facilities and people with certain medical conditions are also at a higher risk. Whether you are in one of the high-risk groups or not, one of the easiest ways you can avoid catching the flu is by washing your hands and remembering not to touch your face. Always use disinfecting wipes and sprays around your home when someone is ill. You can catch the flu from six feet away, so wear a mask if you have to be around someone who has the flu virus.
Common Flu Symptoms
- High fever
- Sore throat
- Runny/stuffy nose
- Muscle and/or body aches
- Vomiting and diarrhea (more common in children)
Get Your Annual Flu Shot
Getting your flu shot every year is the best way to protect yourself against the different types of influenza virus. The influenza virus mutates every year, so scientists look at previous flu strains, seasonal changes, and viral patterns in order to develop a new vaccine yearly. While both the shot and the nasal spray vaccine are available, it is not recommended that anyone under the age of two or over the age of 49 get the nasal spray. The flu shot contains an inactive (dead) virus that cannot make you sick. It can sometimes cause mild side-effects, but they usually only last a day to a few days after receiving the vaccine.