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Flu Symptoms You Can’t Ignore

It is almost impossible to turn on the TV, or open a magazine, and not see the headlines ͚Worst Flu Season Ever. Currently rampant in all 50 states, this year͛s flu season started earlier, is lasting longer, and has been responsible for more deaths than any recent year. As of the beginning of February, it shows no signs of slowing down any time soon.

We all know the recommended preventative measures: get your flu shot, wash your hands often and avoid crowds. Whether you are 15 or 50, these preventative measures have been proven successful in lowering your chances of getting the disease.

In addition to taking proactive preventative measures, it is equally as important to know the flu͛s signs and symptoms so that treatment can begin as quickly as possible. Medicines such as Tamiflu are only effective if taken in the first 48 hours of the infection. While many of the most common signs (coughing, fever, fatigue, sore throat, runny or congested nose, body aches and headaches) are similar across all age groups, the elderly may experience different symptoms. If you or a loved one is older, the flu may cause difficulty breathing, nausea, vomiting, shaking, chills, and chest pains as well. Also, be especially aware of any signs that get worse after the start of the flu, or any symptoms that seem to get better then turn worse again. Report any changes to your healthcare provider immediately, even if it seems trivial. The flu can turn from bad to devastating in a matter of hours.

One of the most common complications of the flu in the elderly is pneumonia, and it is sadly one of the top ten leading cause of death in this age group. Bacterial pneumonia presents with the same signs as the flu but viral pneumonia can also cause a dry cough that produces no phlegm or a cough that produces small amounts of white or clear phlegm. Exhaustion is another very common sign.

Especially during this year͛s flu season, always err on the side of caution. Seek medical advice early. It͛s much better to go to the doctor and have nothing wrong, than to not go to the doctor and suffer sever complications.

Stay healthy!