Influenza, also known as the flu, is a highly contagious viral infection that affects the respiratory system. The flu is most commonly spread through contact with respiratory secretions, such as droplets from coughing or sneezing, or by touching contaminated surfaces. The flu can cause severe illness, especially in young children, older adults, and people with certain chronic medical conditions.1
I attended an FB Live session hosted by Blogchatter. It was insightful and the doctors shared some pertinent information about influenza. I have summarized my key learnings below.
Did you know: Key facts on Influenza
Influenza is a viral infection that attacks one’s respiratory system — nose, throat, and lungs. Influenza is commonly called the flu. Some key facts on Influenza are as follows:1
- Approximately 70% and 85% of seasonal flu-related complications have occurred in people 65 years and older, and between 50% and 70% of seasonal flu-related hospitalizations have occurred among the elderly as well.1
- Globally, about 5–10% of adults and 20–30% of children develop influenza.1
- India is one of the countries with the highest influenza incidence rates.1
How does influenza or flu transmit?
The influenza virus is most commonly spread through contact. This includes coughing or sneezing or touching contaminated surfaces. The flu can cause severe illness, especially in vulnerable populations such as young children, older adults, and people with certain chronic medical conditions.1
What are the symptoms of influenza or flu?
According to World Health Organization, the symptoms of influenza usually appear suddenly and can include:4
- Sore throat4
- Runny or stuffy nose4
- Headache and muscle aches4
- Extreme fatigue (tiredness)4
Some people may also experience vomiting and diarrhea. Symptoms usually last for two to seven days.4
Are the elderly more susceptible to influenza?
Elderly people are at high risk for complications from the flu, so it is important to take steps to prevent its spread. According to a research study published in the journal Cell Host & Microbe, here are the 3 reasons why the elderly are most susceptible to influenza or flu:5
- As we age, our immune system weakens. This makes it harder for our bodies to fight off infections, including the flu.5
- Elderly people are more likely to have chronic medical conditions that can increase the risk of complications from the flu. These conditions include heart disease, diabetes, and lung disease.5
- Elderly people are more likely to live in close quarters, such as nursing homes or assisted living facilities. This increases the risk of exposure to the flu virus and makes it easier for the virus to spread.5
How can one prevent influenza?
Several things can be done to prevent the spread of influenza in the elderly population.
- According to Mayo Clinic, a flu vaccine is the best way to protect against the flu, and it is recommended for everyone aged six months and older.6
- Washing your hands often, avoiding close contact with sick people, and covering your mouth and nose when you sneeze or cough is effective in preventing flu.4
- Clean and disinfect surfaces that may be contaminated with the flu virus. This includes door handles, light switches, countertops, and other surfaces that are commonly touched.6
What are some tips to boost one’s immunity?
Harvard Health Publishing has shared that there are several ways to boost your immunity, including:
- Eating a healthy diet7
- Getting enough sleep7
- Exercising regularly7
- Managing stress7
- Avoiding smoking and excessive alcohol consumption7
All of these things will help to keep your immune system strong and help you to fight off infections, including the flu.7
The flu can be a serious illness, especially for the elderly. By taking steps to prevent its spread and by boosting your immunity, you can help to protect yourself and others from this virus.1
If you are infected with influenza, contact your local healthcare provider. Medications can help to lessen the severity of the illness, and they need to be started within 48 hours of symptom onset. Early treatment is especially important for people at high risk of developing complications from the flu.6
Always remember Influenza is a serious disease that can have severe consequences, especially for the elderly. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact your local healthcare provider. They will be able to give you the most up-to-date information and advice on how to protect yourself from the flu.
Get vaccinated to #FightAgainstFlu
- Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Key Facts About Seasonal Flu Vaccine. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/flu/prevent/keyfacts.htm#flu-vaccination. Last accessed 27th May 2022
- Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Flu-Related Hospitalizations and Deaths in the United States from April 2009 – January 30, 2010. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu/hosp_deaths_ahdra.htm (accessed 27th May 2022)
- Healthshots.com A change in season can bring on a host of health risks. Here’s what you must do. Available at: https://www.healthshots.com/preventive-care/self-care/side-effects-of-season-change-on-health-and-tips-to-handle-it/
- 4.World Health Organization.int. Influenza seasonal. Available at https://www.who.int/en/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/influenza-(seasonal) [ Last accessed on 18 July 2022]
- 5. Scienedirect.com. Influenza Virus Vaccination Elicits Poorly Adapted B Cell Responses in Elderly Individuals. Available at https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1931312819300393?via%3Dihub [Last accessed on 18 July 2022]
- Mayoclinic.org. Flu Shot: Your best bet for avoiding influenza. Available at https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/flu/in-depth/flu-shots/art-20048000 [Last accessed on 18 July 2022]
- Health.harvard.edu. How to boost your immunity system. Available at https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/how-to-boost-your-immune-system [Last accessed on 18 July 2022]