Thanks to some impressive advances in modern medicine, people are living longer now than ever before. Unfortunately, seniors are more prone to infectious disease than younger adults. This is why it’s paramount for people in their latter years to take progressive steps to remain healthy, because waiting to be reactive can have disastrous consequences.
HAND WASHING & FACE TOUCHING
The vast majority of diseases are caused by viruses and bacteria that manage to enter the body. Most of these invaders will be dealt with by the immune system before you ever display a symptom. However, the best way to avoid an illness is to take preventive steps against the spread of these microscopic menaces.
While it may sound obvious — consistent hand washing is one of the best ways to combat the flu. As we go about our day to day lives in public, we touch a lot of surfaces. Door handles, gas pumps, shopping carts etc. All of these surfaces have germs on them that are transferred to your hands, and can then infect you if you touch your eyes, nose or mouth.
Your first line of defense against the flu is consistent hand washing, and avoiding touching your face.
BE PROACTIVE WITH PROBIOTICS
Just as there are bad bacteria that an make you sick, there are also good bacteria that can keep you well. Recent evidence suggests that a diet rich in probiotics may actually help to reduce the risk of contracting the flu.
Recently, a study that involved 326 children was conducted and those who were given probiotic supplements experienced fewer fevers and less coughing and nasal congestion. This might be because good bacteria in the body do more than just promote a healthy digestive tract. They also promote good health in the respiratory system and the skin which is the first line of defense against illness.
It should be noted that the use of probiotics to prevent the flu is still the subject of much debate. However, there’s an extremely powerful tool that can be used to combat the flu, and there’s no debate about its effect.
AVOID ANTIBIOTICS IF YOU ALREADY HAVE THE FLU
Most people are aware that antibiotics are largely responsible for the prolonged lifespans of modern people. However, antibiotics fend off bacteria, and the flu is a virus. Taking antibiotics after you already have the flu can actually do more harm that good, so they should be avoided by senior citizens who are already displaying symptoms. Instead, you should ask your doctor about antivirals which are only available by prescription. These drugs are considered to be the second line of defense against the flu after a flu shot.
While it’s too late to get a flu shot to be protected for the 2018 flu season, doctors recommend that seniors get the flu vaccine every year. This is the most important step that senior citizens can take to prevent catching the flu. The CDC estimates that senior citizens comprise between 71 and 85% of all flu related deaths. Some people incorrectly assume that the flu shot can have adverse effect by making the virus more resilient. However, the vaccine is updated annually to accommodate for new more resilient strains. The only negative effect of getting the flu shot is the minute pain associated with the needle’s prick. Therefore, all senior citizens should get a flu shot annually to prevent complications and hospital visits.
The Flu shot is a vaccine and like all vaccines it works by introducing some of the disease into your system. This causes your body to develop antibodies that help to fend off the flu. Antibodies are the reason why you can only contract certain diseases like the 24 hour flu once in life.
After your body has made the proper antibody to deal with a particular disease, it can easily eradicate that condition before you display any symptoms. Essentially, you don’t get sick from the flu after the flu shot, because you’ve already “had” it. This is similar to someone who has already had chickenpox being immune to the disease. It’ not that the virus can’t enter the body, it’s just eradicated by antibodies before you ever display a symptom.
At OC Elder Law, our estate planning attorneys in Corona, Fullerton, and Newport Beach are committed to helping the seniors in our community! If you have a topic pertaining to senior’s interest that you’d like us to feature in our blog, please contact us.