Submitted by Stacey Boyd, MSN, RN, Director of Nursing, Welbrook at Bloomington
It is that time of the year again! Summer has come and gone, winter is approaching, and flu season is upon us. The flu is an obnoxious illness for some but can be a life threatening condition for adults older than 65 years of age. We can prepare ourselves by staying educated on ways to prevent the flu, knowing the signs and symptoms of the flu, and being well informed on the best treatment.
The best way to prevent the flu is to receive your yearly vaccination. Anyone over the age of six months can receive the flu vaccine. People that are identified as “high-risk” are strongly recommended to receive the yearly vaccine, as well as healthcare workers or individuals that provide care to the “high-risk” population. Anyone can get the flu bug. However, some groups of people are at an increased risk for flu and are noted as “high-risk.” These groups include the following populations:
- Adults over 65 years of age
- People with chronic health conditions (e.g. asthma, diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, congestive heart failure)
- Pregnant women
- Young children
Many people are nervous about receiving the flu vaccine because they have been told you can contact the flu from the vaccine itself.
According to the CDC, the vaccine cannot cause the flu. However, you could develop common side effects such as soreness or redness or swelling to the area the shot was received. Some individuals may also develop a headache, fever, nausea, or muscle aches after the shot is administered. These side effects typically go away within one to two days. The possible side effects of the flu vaccine are minimal compared to facing the flu itself!
In some cases, an individual may have already been exposed to the flu virus prior to their vaccination or before the vaccination took effect, causing that person have the flu. An individual may receive a flu vaccine but still get the flu. This is often caused by the vaccine working on different strains of the virus than the one you are currently fighting. If this is the case, the vaccine still helps to lessen the symptoms and even lessens the length of time the virus is present in your system.
Typically, the flu vaccine is available starting in September and October. You can receive the vaccine at a wide variety of locations:
- Physicians’ offices
- Flu shot clinics
- Home health agencies
- Health department
In addition to receiving the flu vaccine, stay away from others affected by the flu virus as it is contagious and is easily spread to others by coughing, sneezing, and even talking. Utilize hand sanitizers and remember to wash your hands frequently during flu season to reduce your risks of catching (and spreading) the virus.
Signs and symptoms of the flu
Even if you received the flu vaccine or if you have chosen not to, you should watch for the following signs and symptoms of the flu.
- Sore throat
- Body aches
When you are experiencing flu symptoms, be sure to get plenty of rest and drink lots of fluids. Most of the time, people remain at home when the flu bug hits and do not see a doctor, unless there is a complication. Some physicians will prescribe an antiviral drug — such as Tamiflu — for the flu virus, which is typically taken within the first 48-hours of the onset of the flu symptoms. These antiviral drugs can help reduce the length of your illness.
Taking a few common sense precautions and getting a flu shot will help reduce your chances of getting the flu this season.
Welbrook at Bloomington is a new, state-of-the-art senior living community offering independent living, assisted living, and memory care.“Living life well” at Welbrook means having the support, care, and compassion to continue a lifestyle with just a change of location. Welbrook at Bloomington is located at 1402 Leslie Drive, Bloomington. For additional information, contact Rochel Yerington, Community Relations Director at 309-603-2500 or visit WelbrookBloomington.com.