Flu can have dangerous domino effect on older adults

Posted at 3:34 PM, Dec 04, 2017
and last updated 2017-12-04 16:54:16-05

With this year’s flu season predicted to be more severe, it’s important for elderly folks to get their flu shot. That’s because the flu can kick-off a downward domino effect when it comes to their health. 

As we get older, our immune defenses become weaker and it’s harder to fight off infection. For those of you who are 65 or older, you have a greater risk for serious complications like pneumonia, dehydration and worsening chronic conditions like asthma and emphysema. On top of that, after you finally recover, you face higher odds of heart attack, stroke or disability. 

For seniors, the risk increases between two weeks and one month after you’re feeling better.  During this time, there’s a three to five times higher risk for a heart attack and a two to three times higher risk of suffering a stroke.  When you catch the flu, it can be very debilitating. But even after you’ve recovered, elderly folks may never return to the same health they had before. Flu can set off a domino effect, and end up knocking seniors down the disability scale.  
That’s a great question and the answer is to protect yourself from getting the flu. The flu creates an inflammatory response, and this can set-up seniors for heart attacks and strokes. So my prescriptions:
Partha’s RX
1. Get the flu vaccine every year. There’s a high-dose version created for people 65 and older which helps produce a better immune response.
2. If you’re a healthy adult over 65, also get the pneumococcal vaccination. It’ll help protect you against pneumonia, meningitis, and bloodstream infections.
3. Wash your hands often with soap and water. Also cover your mouth when coughing and stay away from sick people. 
4. If you develop flu symptoms like fever, body aches, chills and fatigue – see your doctor immediately.  You may be given antiviral drugs which could prevent you from getting serious flu complications. 

Flu season varies every year but we do know that seniors make up more than half of flu-related hospitalizations, and more than 80 percent of flu-related deaths. So it’s very serious and I highly recommend folks take precautions to prevent it.