Flu Prevention Tips: Effective Strategies for Preventing Infections

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Influenza or flu is a common respiratory illness among people of any age. It is caused by viruses that attack the respiratory system specifically in the throat, nose, and mouth. Flu is common and occurs seasonally, but it usually goes away on its own after a week or 2. However, seniors may be at risk of serious complications caused by the flu due to a weakened immune system caused by old age.

Fortunately, there are ways to prevent getting the flu including yearly vaccinations and a healthy lifestyle. In this article, I will share some crucial information you should know about the flu as well as valuable tips for you to consider.

Importance of Preventing Flu

People may think that the flu is just an ordinary sickness that goes away on its own. This may be true but not for seniors. Healthy individuals may have a lower risk of getting the flu virus, and even if they do get the virus, the symptoms may only be mild.

However, seniors specifically at the age of 65 and above, have weaker immune systems and they tend to be more at risk of the illness. In some cases, it can even trigger other chronic illnesses like pneumonia. That’s the reason why following the measures to prevent the flu is more crucial than your know.

Symptoms of the Flu Virus

The flu virus may have similar symptoms to colds and the COVID-19 virus. To help you better understand and distinguish the symptoms of flu from colds and COVID-19, below is a list of symptoms of each:

Symptoms of colds:

  1. Sore throat
  2. Cough
  3. Sneezing
  4. Runny nose

Symptoms of COVID-19:

  • Sore throat
  • Cough
  • Runny nose
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Body aches
  • Fever
  • Vomiting/Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Troubled breathing
  • Loss of sense of smell and taste

Symptoms of flu virus:

  • Sore throat
  • Cough
  • Runny nose
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Body aches
  • Fever
  • Vomiting/Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Troubled breathing

Note: COVID-19 and flu virus symptoms are very similar, and their only difference is that COVID-19 includes the loss of your sense of smell and taste which is not present in the flu. Talk to your doctor immediately if you experience the symptoms of the flu to get treatment right away and avoid further complications.

Tips to Prevent Flu in Seniors

To prevent yourself from getting and spreading the flu, follow the tips and safety measures listed below. 

Take your medicine

After getting tested and diagnosed with influenza, your doctor will most likely prescribe you specific drugs such as Bolaxavir and Zanamivir. Make sure to take your medications on time and within the said duration to take the full effects of the medicine and treat the flu as early as possible.

Consider flu shots

Opting for a high-dose flu shot is one of the most effective ways to treat and prevent you from getting the flu. It’s important to take this vaccination every year though, and during peak seasons for better protection from the flu.

Wash your hands

Our hands are considered one of the dirtiest parts of our body. It’s because it’s our hands that we use for holding, grasping, and lending objects that might be contaminated with millions of germs and bacteria.

Additionally, the influenza virus can be acquired through skin contact like a handshake and placing your hand on an object or surface that has the flu virus. This is the reason why washing your hands and using sanitizer is very crucial to avoid infection.

Get enough rest and sleep

Sleep is essential in keeping the immune system strong so that it can fight off infections that attack our body. Getting enough rest and sleep will keep your immune system properly functioning, thus reducing your risk of infections caused by the flu.

Drink plenty of water

Doctors recommend keeping yourself hydrated especially if you’re experiencing symptoms of coughing and sneezing. This is because water helps your mouth and throat loosen mucus membranes and wash it away preventing further congestion in the nasal cavities.

Cover your mouth

If you’re having influenza, it’s crucial to cover your mouth whenever you sneeze or cough to avoid spreading the flu to other people. Preferably, use a facemask when you go out or interact with a person.

Stay at home as much as possible

If there are no important errands to do, it would be better if you stay at home until you’re fully recovered. Not only this will help you heal faster, but you’ll also be able to avoid infecting others.

Avoid close contact

If you still haven’t caught the flu, then do your best to avoid physical or close contact with people who have it. Make sure to sanitize your hands at all times as well especially when you’re outdoors.

Avoid touching your nose, eyes, and mouth

This is another way to prevent being infected with the flu. As mentioned earlier, our hands are dirtier than you imagine. According to a recent article, it stated that our hands are responsible for spreading about 80% of illness-causing germs and bacteria.

In this case, you may have already put a hand on an object or surface that has a flu virus. Thus, touching your nose, eyes, or mouth can increase your risk of getting the flu. This is also the reason why washing your hands is very important.

Always disinfect

Just like COVID-19, the flu virus can be prevented through frequent disinfecting. Make sure to disinfect various surfaces and objects in your home or workplace to avoid the spread of the flu.

Treating Flu Virus

If you notice the symptoms of the flu mentioned above, talk to your doctor to get the right treatment. Doctors usually recommend flu treatment medications such as:

  1. Oseltamivir
  2. Peramivir
  3. Zanamivir
  4. Baloxavir
Importance of Yearly Flu Shots in Seniors

One of the most recommended options for seniors to reduce the risk of getting the flu is to get regular flu vaccinations, or what they call, “flu shots”.

Flu is a seasonal sickness, which means that it has a specific peak season every year. The virus usually spreads easily during the start of the fall and winter season usually between October and February the following year.

Since the effects of a flu shot will lessen as time passes, the best time for getting vaccinated is before or during the peak seasons each year.

Moreover, experts say that the effect and strength of the influenza virus change each year that’s why hospitals ensure that seniors always get the latest version of the flu shot every year.

Where to Get Flu Shots for Seniors

If you’re planning on getting a flu vaccination next fall, you can get one from your doctor, at the hospital, health clinic, or at the nearest health department. For easier access to flu vaccine sources, visit vaccines.gov and type your location. The website will automatically provide a list of available sources near you.

Final Thoughts

Flu is common not just in the US, but also in different countries around the globe, and the most at risk of getting it are seniors since they have a weaker immune system. Fortunately, this is a treatable and preventable disease, and you don’t have to spend a lot of dollars on it. Medicare and other insurance companies may even cover your yearly flu shot expenses.

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