Posts Tagged ‘swine flu’

Seniors in Joliet and the flu

Flu ShotSeasonal flu is especially dangerous for seniors over 65 and others with weak immune systems. The viral infection can exhaust the body making it easy for life-threatening complications such as bacterial pneumonia to take hold. It can also worsen the symptoms of conditions like heart disease, asthma, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

With seasonal flu, seasons vary in terms of timing, duration and severity.  Each year in the United States, on average, more than 200,000 people are hospitalized, and the combination of flu and pneumonia is the cause of at least 36,000 deaths. Ninety percent of these deaths are people over age 65.

However, this flu season could be worse because of the virus 2009 H1N1. The Center of Disease Control (CDC) expects both 2009 H1N1 flu and seasonal flu to cause illness, hospital stays and deaths this season and is preparing for an early and possibly severe flu season. However, the 2009 H1N1 (earlier referred to as “swine flu”) is a new influenza virus first detected in people in the United States in April 2009.

Swine flu is a virus infection which can cause a wide range of symptoms, including fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Some people have reported diarrhea and vomiting. Like seasonal flu, swine flu can vary from mild to severe. Severe disease with pneumonia, respiratory failure and even death is possible with swine flu infection.

Certain groups may be more likely to develop a severe illness from swine flu, such as pregnant women and people with chronic medical conditions. Flu viruses generally spread when droplets from a cough or sneeze of an infected person are propelled through the air and land on the mouth or nose of people nearby. Flu viruses can also spread when a person touches respiratory droplets on another person or an object and then touches their own mouth or nose (or someone else’s mouth or nose) before washing their hands.

Everyone age 50 and older should get the seasonal flu vaccine as soon as possible. Most seniors do not appear to be at high-risk for the H1N1 (Swine) flu, but they should get the H1N1 vaccine when it’s available to them. However, seniors who have health conditions associated with a higher risk of flu complications should get the H1N1 vaccine as soon as possible.

Three recommendations from the CDC:

  • Get a yearly seasonal flu vaccine as the first and most important step in protecting against seasonal influenza. Ask your doctor if you should get a 2009 H1N1 vaccine.
  • Take everyday preventive actions such as hand washing and covering the mouth during a cough or sneeze.
  • Take flu antiviral drugs if your doctor recommends them. Antiviral drugs are prescription medicines (pills, liquid or an inhaled powder) that fight against the flu by keeping flu viruses from reproducing.
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