How the Flu Epidemic of 2013 is Affecting the Senior Community
The flu has spread like wild fire this winter across the country; 38 states reported widespread influenza activity this year. According to Angie Laing, a nurse at Sentara Norfolk General in Virginia, the flu ranked number three of the top 100 chief complaints at the hospital.
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), people over the age of 65 are the most at risk for complications due to the flu. 90 percent of flu related deaths and 60 percent of flu related hospitalizations are in individuals over age 65.
Why Are Senior’s More Susceptible?
Seniors have a weaker immune system and may have other pre-existing conditions that make them more susceptible to flu related hospitalization. Some conditions that heighten flu symptoms are asthma, neurological and neurodevelopmental conditions, chronic lung disease, heart disease, blood disorders, endocrine disorders, kidney disorders, metabolic disorders, weakened immune systems due to a disease and obesity.
According to the CDC, an adult should go to the emergency room if they have difficulty breathing, pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen, sudden dizziness, confusion or severe vomiting,
Ways to Avoid Getting the Flu.
The best way to prevent the flu is getting a flu shot. Laing said, “It is important for people 65 years and older to get vaccinated because they are at increased risk for complications from flu.” According to the American Lung Association, the flu shot can be 70 percent effective in preventing hospitalization due to the flu in adults age 65 and older. The vaccine is updated and protects from an H3N2 virus, an influenza B virus and an H1N1 virus. It is also offered as a traditional vaccine or a nasal spray vaccine.
Other ways to protect against the flu are covering your mouth, washing your hands often, and avoiding being around sick people.
If you are sick with the flu, the CDC recommends you stay home for at least 24 hours before coming in contact with other people.