The Flu and Seniors

| October 22, 2014 | 0 Comments | Email This Post Email This Post
The Flu and Seniors

The Flu and Seniors

What You Need to Know to Keep Healthy This Year

Every year, the TV news and newspapers warn us that it’s time to get ready for flu season. These stories almost seem routine and we may even tune them out a bit, but it’s important to take action to reduce our risk for flu. That’s especially true for Boomers and seniors who are more susceptible to flu and at greater risk of serious complications from the flu, such as pneumonia, bronchitis, sinus infections and ear infections. Plus, the flu can make chronic health problems worse.  For example, people with asthma may experience more frequent attacks or people with heart failure could see their condition worsen.  Unfortunately as Boomers age, our immune defenses weaken.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends everyone take the following steps to reduce our risk for flu:

  1. Get vaccinated
  2. Practice good health habits to stop germs from spreading
  3. Take antiviral medications, if infected

There are many different flu vaccines available. There are traditional injections, nasal sprays and a variety that is egg-free (for those who are allergic). There is also a high-dose flu vaccine that is specifically approved for adults age 65 and older.

Most people who get vaccinated will not get sick from flu.  However, if you start experiencing the  following flu-like symptoms, it is time to see a physician:

  • Muscle aches
  • Chills
  • Fever
  • Sore throat and congestion


The only way to know for sure if you have the flu is to have your doctor conduct a diagnostic test. These types of tests have been available for many years but the most accurate tests have required sending samples out to a lab. Therefore, it’s likely that if you’ve visited your doctor in the past with flu-like symptoms, you were prescribed a treatment without actually getting tested for the flu. While this may seem harmless, it can lead to patients being misdiagnosed and prescribed treatments that either have no effect on the flu or can actually delay recovery. For example, inappropriately prescribed antibiotics are not only powerless against the flu, but they can also lead to serious antibiotic-resistant infections. It is also important to diagnose and treat flu quickly because medications that treat the virus (antivirals) are most effective when started within 48 hours of getting sick.

This flu season, a new flu test is available that provides lab-quality results in less than 15 minutes – which means that your doctor can make more informed decisions about how to treat your illness in a shorter timeframe and while you’re still in the office. The test is called the Alere™ i Influenza A & B test and it was cleared by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in June. The test is currently available in many hospitals and in certain physician offices, and will be more widely available later as the flu season progresses. Generally, flu season lasts from October through as late as May.

For more information about the Alere i test and flu testing, visit



Category: Blog, Senior Health