Do you have a chronic illness such as Bronchitis, Diabetes, and Heart Disease? If so did you know that you are at high risk of serious illness if you get the flu? Individuals with a chronic illness have a weaker immune system to fight off the flu. The flu can be treated. There are “antiviral” medicines that can be used to treat the flu. These medicines fight the influenza viruses in your body. Treatment with antiviral drugs can mean the difference between having a milder illness instead of a very serious illness. For seniors this could mean avoiding a hospital stay.
Individuals with chronic illnesses are more likely to get complications from the flu, such as pneumonia. And the flu can worsen your chronic illness such as causing higher blood sugar levels in Diabetics, or pneumonia in individuals with Heart and Lung diseases.
If you think you are coming down with the flu call your physician immediately. You must start taking the antiviral drugs within 24-48 hours of initial symptoms. Symptoms of the flu can include, fever, and cough, sore throat, runny nose, body aches, headaches, chills, and fatigue.
The antiviral drugs can lessen the symptoms and shorten the time you have ill. This is particularly important for high-risk patients with chronic health conditions. Other treatment options are taking medicine such as acetaminophen to reduce fevers and chills. Drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated. Eat light meals such as soups and teas. Using good hygiene with good hand washing, and covering your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze prevents spreading the flu to others.
For seniors who live alone and need help with general care and activities while they are ill consider hiring a short-term caregiver to help you. For more information on how to care for the flu or getting help at home, visit Family Caregivers Network or call us at 215-541-9030.