As the cold and flu season approaches, we should examine our attitudes and practices about those illnesses, which can become more severe as we age. Better to be safe and sound than suffer with an avoidable, potentially life-threatening sickness.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that nine out of 10 flu-related deaths and 60 percent of flu-related hospitalizations occur in the senior population. Short of such serious outcomes, the flu or a cold can make for a miserable few days, or longer, even for people in otherwise tiptop health.
Although the viruses that cause colds and flu are unrelated, they both affect the upper respiratory tract, so they often produce similar symptoms. However, headaches, body aches, fatigue or weakness and muscle pain are more common to the flu, whose symptoms also have a faster onset. But even a low-grade cold can cause uncomfortable, even life-threatening symptoms.
People often become resigned to coming down with a cold or the flu. Not everyone realizes that practicing simple habits can decrease our chances of contracting them — in any season. In addition to receiving a flu vaccination, which this year protects against three flu strains, including the H1N1 virus, here are some easy practices for prevention: