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Your Healthy Family: Protecting the elderly during flu season - KOAA.com | Continuous News | Colorado Springs and Pueblo

Your Healthy Family: Protecting the elderly during flu season

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Cold and flu season can be a miserable time for anyone who happens to get sick, but for the elderly, what starts as a cold or flu can sometimes easily escalate into something more serious. Cold and flu season can be a miserable time for anyone who happens to get sick, but for the elderly, what starts as a cold or flu can sometimes easily escalate into something more serious.
COLORADO SPRINGS -

Cold and flu season can be a miserable time for anyone who happens to get sick, but for the elderly, what starts as a cold or flu can sometimes easily escalate into something more serious.

According to Ronan Factora, M.D., of Cleveland Clinic, when seniors get sick, staying hydrated  is of the utmost importance.  

“Early on, if you have any sort of infection, viral or influenza, the biggest problem is really not drinking and eating enough,” said Dr. Factora.  “Dehydration can lead to a lot of problems; people can be lethargic, their blood pressure can go down, and it can really lead to some serious complications.”

Dr. Factora said changes in immunity that happen as we age can reduce a person’s ability to fight off viral infections. Likewise, certain medications can suppress the immune system, such as steroid medications for inflammation.

Conditions including rheumatoid arthritis, lymphoma and leukemia can make it more difficult to fight off a virus as well.  Dr. Factora said that of all of the viruses, influenza (or the flu) tends to lead to the most complications for seniors, particularly if it develops into pneumonia.  He said there are certain bacteria that produce pneumonia which can lead to a higher risk of hospitalization and even death for seniors.  Dr. Factora said that once folks reach the age of 65, it’s very important for them to stay up on vaccinations to help prevent some of these infections.

“The first thing is prevention – you want to get your vaccines and protect yourself as much As possible,” said Dr. Factora.  “If you do get sick, typically if it’s a cold or some sort of viral infection that’s not the flu, you’ll probably peak, in terms of your symptoms, in seven to ten days.”

Dr. Factora also said that eating a healthy diet, maintaining a healthy weight and continuing cardiovascular exercise can help give the immune system a boost.  

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