Flu Symptoms in the Elderly: When Should You Worry?

Flu season is coming soon.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) just announced that it has approved the formula for this year’s flu shot. Each year, experts from the FDA study influenza virus patterns and samples to identify the strains of the flu that are most likely to strike the U.S. This year, two of the strains are different from those contained in the 2011-12 vaccine. The FDA’s Dr. Karen Midthun reminds us that the best way to avoid getting the flu is to get vaccinated each year. Midthun adds, “It is especially important to get vaccinated this year because two of the three virus strains used in this season’s influenza vaccines differ from the strains included in last year’s vaccines.”

The FDA also reminds us that there is always the possibility of a less than optimal match between the predicted virus strains and the ones that actually strike. But even if there is not an exact match, the vaccine can reduce the severity of illness and lessen complications.

The FDA cautions that the flu can be very serious for seniors and people with existing chronic health conditions. So even if your loved one received their flu shot, be alert to symptoms that might suggest they’ve come down with the disease.

Typical symptoms of the flu include fever, headache, fatigue, sore throat and muscle aches. Occasionally, a patient will also experience stomach symptoms, such as nausea and vomiting.

Most people recover from the flu without complications. But you should seek emergency medical care if you or a loved one is experiencing…

  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
  • Sudden dizziness
  • Confusion          
  • Severe or persistent vomiting

Follow the instructions of the healthcare provider to help keep your loved one safe from serious flu complications.

For More Information

Visit Flu.gov to learn more about this year’s flu strains and how you can protect yourself and loved ones.

Source: Assisting Hands Home Care in association with IlluminAge. c 2012 IlluminAge.