Common Sense Steps Can Help


It seems like everywhere I turn, I hear about someone who is sick with the flu. The city of Boston last week declared a “health emergency” due to the number of cases being reported. Emergency rooms at hospitals around the country are dealing with an onslaught of patients with the flu.

Seasonal flu is a contagious respiratory infection caused by different flu viruses, and — it follows a fairly predictable pattern, starting in the fall and ending in the spring. It’s important to understand flu symptoms so you can seek immediate treatment, especially if you have a chronic medical condition. The earlier you recognize that you have the flu can also make a difference in how long it lasts. Elders are always considered a group “at risk” due to their age and susceptibility to other chronic medical conditions such as diabetes or congestive heart failure.

Flu can come on with great rapidity. You may feel fine in the morning, but by dinnertime you are feeling achy. When flu strikes, you feel very weak and fatigued. This may last for up to two or three weeks. You’ll have muscle aches and periods of chills and sweats as fever comes and goes. You may also have a stuffy or runny nose, headache, and sore throat.

Not sleeping well or being under additional stress can make you more susceptible. If you smoke, this is a good time to stop, because it can lower your resistance. It is strongly recommended that people over 65 get a flu shot.  My wife and I did so a few months ago, and thus far neither of us has been sick.

Provide some information to your elderly parents and help reduce the chances of getting the flu.   Here are some common sense habits to remember:

  • Wash your hands throughout the day
  • Drink plenty of liquids
  • If at all possible — avoid other people who are sick!
  • Don’t touch your eyes or mouth with your hands
  • Keep your fingernails short
  • Use a hand sanitizer