Flu (Influenza) is an acute respiratory disease of viral etiology, occurring with symptoms of general intoxication and damage of respiratory tract. The influenza virus is very easily passed. The most common route of infection – airborne. Another route of virus transmission is also possible (although much rarer) and that is infection through various articles of daily use.
Flu is a severe viral infection that affects people regardless of sex or age. This is an acute disease that is characterized by an acute toxicosis, catarrhal symptoms in the form of rhinitis, stuffiness in nose and cough with bronchi lesion.
Flu in elderly patients causes the largest number of complications, and it is quite difficult to cure it, because the immune system of people after 59 years is significantly weakened.
The regular flu can turn into a tragedy for an elderly person who is suffering from chronic diseases.
What is different about the flu in elderly patients against the flu in people of other age categories?
Peculiarities of influenza in seniors
- The majority of people of this age group have not one, but a whole bunch of chronic diseases, therefore, the flu in such patients will proceed particularly hard with possible hospitalization.
- The frequency of complications after the recent flu in this age category is many times higher than the permissible percentage (up to 70% of flu cases have serious complications on the cardiovascular system, lungs, kidneys, acute exacerbation of chronic diseases).
- The risk of death in a case of severe influenza among the elderly is several times larger than that of middle-aged people, frequently visiting the areas with large concentrations of people. This means that a person of the age 35-40 years with a chronic disease and always using subway services, is less likely to get sick during the seasonal flu period than the older man, who came in a regular store to buy some bread, and the risk of getting a severe complication is significantly higher for an older person.
- Elderly people at the age of 65 and over, especially living alone, seriously suffer from flu, because they have to take care of themselves, and therefore, during the first 3-4 days there is a high risk of dehydration and increasing stress on heart.
- Unlike young people, seniors get sick with flu faster, stay sick longer, and often do not seek medical advice, engaging in self-treatment, or come absolutely sick to a clinic, becoming a source of infection for other people, and exposing themselves to a risk of complications, incompatible with life.
- Seniors have an extremely weakened immune system, so the flu will progress rapidly, causing complications.
- Elderly people impaired cough reflex, which leads to stagnation of bronchial mucus, which in its turn causes complications connected with the respiratory system of the sick person, provokes heart failure and may cause death.
- The presence of chronic diseases with a large number of medicines do not always allow vaccinating an elderly person.
How does the flu manifest itself in elderly patients?
The flu manifests itself approximately the same as that of other people, but older people suffer through the flu much harder – organism can no longer serve them as truly as before, the work of many organs, including the immune ones, is partially impaired.
• Total weakening of the whole body
• Headache and muscle aches
• Severe fatigue that lasts up to three weeks
• The pressure in the chest, cough, runny nose
• Dry throat and nose
• Difficulty in breathing
• Sometimes gastrointestinal disorders may appear in seniors with flu: nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. However, these symptoms are more characteristic of childhood.
Possible flu complications in seniors
These complications can manifest themselves not immediately but that doesn’t make them less serious. Sometimes, in particularly difficult cases, there are several complications, for example, bronchitis and tonsillitis. Also, the symptoms of long-standing chronic diseases may aggravate, which a person previously disturbed a person, and now resumed after or with the onset of flu.
• Dehydration of the whole body
• Tonsillitis of different species
Therefore, when having any of flu complications one should immediately seek medical attention. The earlier the treatment is started, the greater is the chance to avoid more serious complications.
How to prevent flu in elderly people?
A young person can easily cope with flu in a week, but for an elderly person this disease can be fatal. Or it is rather difficult to cure. Every day of life of our beloved ones is very valuable to us, and we do not want them to suffer. Therefore it is very important to help seniors to protect themselves from the flu.
The best protection against the flu is annual vaccination.
Practice shows that vaccinations that are properly selected and are done at the right time, reduce the risk of flu by 80%. Studies show that vaccination in the elderly can reduce mortality rate due to influenza in nearly 90% of cases, and the possibility of hospitalization – up to 70%. These are very large numbers. Behind them – a lot of lives.
How to treat the flu properly in seniors?
Flu treatment in elderly patients is not limited to pharmacy drugs. To eliminate dehydration and remove toxins it is necessary to drink plenty of warm fluids (not soda). It can be fruit drinks, brews, teas, mineral water without gas.
Also, you need to protect yourself from stress – for a weakened organism, it is destructive, moreover, it disrupts the nervous and immune systems.
In old age, almost all people are taking some medicines. Therefore, you must make sure that these drugs can be combined with preparations for the prevention of influenza or its treatment. Your doctor should consult you on this question.
The usual medication for the elderly, eliminating the symptoms of flu at the initial stage is Relenza (zanamivir) or Tamiflu (oseltamivir). If you take these medications (one of them) for two days after noticing flu symptoms, the disease will significantly reduce its course and will be suffered through much easier than without treatment. Flu in seniors can be prevented if they would take good care of their health. But if you are already sick, see a doctor immediately, because in this case, timing is critical.
Seek medical advice immediately if the following symptoms occur:
- If you start feeling difficulty in breathing
- Flu symptoms do not improve, but worsen after 3 or 4 days
- After the flu symptoms improved, and then suddenly the symptoms of a more serious illness started developing: nausea, vomiting, high fever, chest pain or expectoration of yellow-green mucus.
Take care of your beloved ones and stay healthy!