Flu season is here. If you're over 65, you need to take special precautions. Influenza is particularly dangerous for young children and people over the age of 65. In fact, according to health statistics, about 20,000 people die from influenza each year. About 90 percent of the fatalities are people over the age of 65. The most important step you can take to protect yourself is get a flu shot. In addition to your flu shot, it's important that you know the warning signs associated with the flu. If you develop any of the signs described below, you should contact your doctor as soon as possible.
Fever That Won't Go Away
Fevers are a normal part of sickness. However, for the common cold or mild forms of the flu, a fever should go away once you take a fever reducer. If you've had a fever for more than a couple of days, and over-the-counter fever reducers aren't helping, you could have an underlying infection. Be sure to contact your primary-care physician.
Severe Sore Throat
Sore throats are common during the winter, especially if you spend time outside in the cold. In most cases, mild sore-throat pain can be alleviated with over-the-counter pain medication or by gargling with salt water. If your sore throat has become so severe that it's interfering with your ability to swallow or eat, you need to seek medical attention. You may have a throat infection—such as strep throat—that will require antibiotic treatment.
Painful or Persistent Cough
If you have a cough that refuses to go away or that causes chest pain, you need to talk to your doctor. Most coughs should go away after a week or two. If yours is lingering, you might have an infection that will require treatment. The cough could also be asthma-related. Schedule an appointment to see your doctor so that they can identify the cause of your persistent cough.
Signs of Flu Emergency
If not treated properly, flu can turn into a life-or-death situation. It's important that you know the signs of a flu emergency. These signs will require emergency treatment.
- Severe chest pain
- Shortness of breath
- Uncontrollable vomiting
Now that flu season is here, it's important that you know the warning signs. This is particularly true if you're over the age of 65. Before the flu hits you this season, see a doctor, such as one at Rural Health Services Consortium Inc., for a flu shot.