Flu In Elderly: Is It Something To Worry About?

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Flu in Elderly
Supriya Singh
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In general terms, an individual over the age of 65 years is elderly. Our body is somewhat similar to a piece of machinery that, in the long run, requires extra care for proper functioning. 

The health condition of the elderly is always delicate. Why? As we grow older, our immunity decreases. And, we all know how our immune system protects us from most viruses and any foreign materials. 

So, with weaker immunity, flu in elderly may be a bit of risk. Although some elders may proudly say that they have fought the flu with ease in their younger days, one should not take the flu in elderly stage lightly. 

So, today, we are here with all the necessary information on flu symptoms in elderly, how long does the flu last in the elderly, and what steps to take. 

What is the flu exactly?

The flu, also known as, influenza is a common viral infection that occurs mostly during season change. As the virus infects the body, it affects the respiratory system involving your throat, nose, and lungs. Under normal circumstances, one can recover from the flu themselves. But in the case of flu in older adults over the age of 65, one must be careful, and it is better to consult the doctor if in doubt.  

Look out for these symptoms and know the possible complications related to the flu in elderly patients.

After all, knowledge is power!

Don’t confuse the flu with the common cold

The symptoms of the flu and cold are almost similar, but still, there are a few differences. Moreover, the symptoms of flu are stronger than the common cold. 

What are the flu symptoms in elderly?

  • High fever (101 Fahrenheit or more)
  • Body chills
  • Runny nose
  • Body pain
  • Weakness and tiredness
  • Runny nose
  • Coughing all the time
  • Headaches
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion

Do you have the flu or common cold?

To find out this, you need to know the symptoms of the common cold.

  • Low to a mild fever that lasts not more than 3 to 4 days
  • Blocked nose or runny nose
  • Sore throat
  • Cough
  • Congestion

How long does the flu persist in the elderly?

Usually, the flu lasts in the body for two to three weeks if the individual receives the right treatment on time. In case the immune system of the elderly is weak, the flu may last longer than three weeks. On the other hand, the common cold lasts only for a few days. 

What are the complications related to flu in older adults?

A study reveals that more than 80 percent of flu-related deaths are seen in people who are more than 65 years of age. Now, don’t get scared! It is all about keeping your immune system rock-solid. Everything will be all right!

Here are some of the complications of flu in elders:

  • Pneumonia, leading to hospitalization
  • Bronchitis
  • Increases the chances of heart attack by three to five times
  • Increases the chances of stroke by two to three times 
  • Sinus
  • Ear infection
  • Dehydration

The severe complications as a result of flu in older adults are more high risk and possibly fatal if they have any of the below medical conditions:

  • Diabetes
  • Heart problems
  • Asthma
  • Lung disease
  • Weak immune system

In most cases, many may ignore the symptoms, thinking it of it as a common cold. As a result, they may suffer from complications. 

How the flu in elderly spreads?

Just like the current coronavirus, the flu is highly contagious. It spreads from one person to another when one individual sneezes, or coughs. Touching any surface that may carry the virus can also further spread the flu.

Treatment of the flu in elderly patients

On diagnosis, doctors commonly prescribe antiviral medications and also will recommend related treatment if any complications appear. The treatment for flu in elderly should be done within two weeks of infection.

Flu in Elderly

The thing with the flu in elderly is that they sometimes don’t show the symptoms and go undetected, which ultimately leads to severe health risks. So, to avoid the chances of getting infected by this virus, older adults should get the annual flu shots as a preventive measure. 

Side effects of flu shots in older adults

On getting the shot, the person may experience temporary side effects such as skin redness near the injection point, muscle pain, or headache.

Types of influenza shots for older adults

High-dose flu shot-

This particular shot is only meant for adults over the age of 65 years. It is also known as Fluzone High-Dose Quadrivalent, has been created with four strains of the flu virus. On taking the shot, it boosts the immunity against the flu virus itself. 

Adjuvanted flu shot-

Another shot that helps to create an immune response against the flu virus. This one is known as FLUAD, is made with the MF59 adjuvant, which is the star ingredient here that lowers the risk of infection in the elders.

When should elders get the shot for the flu?

As the flu occurs due to seasonal changes, the CDC advises that adults over the age of 65 should get the annual flu shot by the end of October as a precautionary measure. 

How long do the effects of the flu shot last?

The effectiveness of flu shots lasts for a maximum of 6 months in general. But in the case of the elderly, its efficiency wears off earlier than the younger people. So, to be on the safe side, we would recommend the elders to follow home remedies to boost immunity. 

Here are some simple home remedies that everyone can follow:

Take multivitamins supplements. However, vitamin C and vitamin D are the principal ones that you need to take regularly. Start the intake of honey, garlic, mint leaves, berries for further improvement of your immune system. Leading a healthier lifestyle overall with regular sleep time is all it takes to have strong immunity.

The flu in elderly is indeed a serious infectious disease and shouldn’t be taken casually. For better clarity, older adults should consult their doctors on which annual shot will be suitable.

Stay safe💓