Influenza, commonly know as the flu, is an infectious disease caused by influenza viruses. Common symptoms include: chills, fever, runny nose, sore throat, muscle pains, headaches, couging, weakness/fatigue, and general discomfort. Though it is often confused with the common cold, influenza is actually a severe disease.
How Does It Spread?
Influenza is usually transmitted through the air by coughs or sneezes, creating aerosols carrying the virus. People that have the flu can spread it to others as far as 6 feet away. People who have the flu become contagious 1 day before symptoms start to show and can be contagious up to 7 days after becoming sick. Symptoms begin 1 to 4 days after infection. That means that you can pass the flu to someone else before you know you are evens sick.
Seniors and the Flu
People 65 years and older are at greater risk of serious complications from the flu. It is estimated that 90% of seasonal flu-related deaths and between 50%-60% of flu-related hospitalizations in the US happen to people 65 years and older. This is due to a drop in immune defenses that come with age.
Actions to Take
The best action is to get a flu vaccination. It is extrememly important for people 65 years and older due to a higher risk for complications from influenza. There are two flu shots available- a regular dose and new vaccine that contains a higher dose, designed with seniors in mind. Studies have indicated that the higher dose vaccine was 24.2% more effective in preventing flu in seniors.
Other actions include practicing good health habits which include: covering coughs, washing hands often, and avoiding people who are sick. If you develop flu symptoms, please seek medical advice quickly to determine whether treatment is needed.
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