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As we get older our immune system becomes much less effective. Particularly after sixty or sixty-five we become much less able to fight infections and become more vulnerable to complications. So the elderly are much more vulnerable to the flu and are more likely to get it. If they do get it then they are more likely to get bacterial infections like pneumonia.
Often, senior citizens can have other diseases that become more common with age- conditions like heart disease, lung disease and kidney disease. The elderly then become more vulnerable to problems in those areas because they have an infection with the flu itself. For that reason the flu is more likely to be fatal in older people. In most years, the elderly bare the brunt and deaths are highest amongst older people.
Its very important, as we get older, to get vaccinated. For the vast majority of older people, vaccinations are beneficial. The vaccination against the flu is provided on the health service free of charge for anybody over sixty-five. You simply go along to your GP and get the vaccine. It’s very quick and very simple. Practices usually run vaccination sessions at the beginning of the flu season before you are at an increased risk and before flu numbers start to rise. This is usually around October and most practises run their vaccination sessions then. If you do miss the vaccination sessions in October, still get vaccinated sooner rather than later.
If someone of an older age develops the flu they really need to take all the steps necessary to look after themselves. They need to treat their symptoms, rest, keep hydrated, take simple pain relief and be alert for any signs or symptoms of developing complications. For example, if they become particularly unwell, dehydrated, develop a nasty cough, chest pain or are producing yellow phlegm, then they need to go and see their doctor. If they are feeling very unwell then we sometimes use antiviral medicines for the flu. These can shorten the length of symptoms and reduce the risk of complications. GP’s don’t use anti viral medication in minor cases as they can have problems of their own. If someone is very ill or particularly frail it may be worth using antiviral medication.
So be alert for problems, use simple remedies, and see your doctor if needed.
10860 Published November 2012comments powered by Disqus