Flu season continues to cause widespread illness and has accounted for 22 deaths so far in Arkansas. People 65 and older are at a high risk of serious flu-related complications and should seek medical treatment as soon as possible if flu-like symptoms develop.
Flu symptoms may include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. The flu can be treated with antiviral drugs that work best when started as soon as possible after symptoms develop. Antiviral drugs can shorten the time of illness, lessen the symptoms and help reduce serious complications from flu infection.
“We know that people 65 years and older account for 90 percent of flu-related deaths and for more than 60 percent of flu-related hospitalizations in the U.S. each year,” Gary Wheeler, MD, Infectious Disease Branch Chief at ADH said.
“Seniors’ immune systems are weaker, making it more difficult for their bodies to deal with the flu, which is why it’s important they visit their doctor as soon as possible.”
It’s still not too late to get a flu vaccine. The flu vaccine is the single best protection against the flu and is still available at local health units, pharmacies and doctor’s offices. Other groups at high-risk for flu-related complications include pregnant women, children under the age of five and people with chronic conditions such as diabetes or heart disease.
Other steps you can take to help reduce your risk of getting the flu include washing hands often and avoiding people who may be sick.