Who is most at risk? Children under the age of 5, and especially those younger than 2, as well as people who are 65 and older are more likely to develop complications from flu. Also in the higher-risk group are pregnant women and people with chronic medical conditions such as lung disease, heart disease, diabetes, and neurologic conditions.
How can you protect yourself?
The best defense against the flu is to get the. The CDC recommends everyone age 6 months and older each year.
“The flu vaccine is a very safe vaccine that saves lives,” Bocchini said. “Studies have shown that of the children who died from the flu in the U.S. last year, 85 percent were not immunized.”
Although the flu vaccine doesn’t guarantee that you won’t get sick, doctors say it does reduce the chances, and if you do get sick it may be less severe.
If you develop antiviral medication such as Tamiflu (also available as generic oseltamivir), Relenza or Rapivab., such as fever, body aches and fatigue, and you are at high risk for complications from the flu, it is important to see your doctor to ask if you should receive an
“There are antiviral medications that can be used to shorten the duration of illness as well as to help prevent complications from the flu,” Bocchini said. “Antiviral medications should be started early to have their best chance of helping.”
Take common-sense precautions to avoid exposure to the flu virus, such as washing your hands frequently and staying away from people who are sick.if you have flu-like symptoms until at least 24 hours after the fever is gone.
When to seek emergency medical attention
When the flu becomes severe, some people may need immediate medical attention to prevent further complications.
“Sometimes people will need to go to the emergency room to see a doctor right away due to the flu virus,” Bocchini said. “It is very important to know the signs and symptoms that indicate when someone is very sick from the flu and needs help right away.”
According to the CDC, emergency warning signs in children include:
- Fast breathing or trouble breathing
- Bluish skin color
- Not drinking enough fluids
- Not waking up or not interacting
- Being so irritable that the child does not want to be held
- Flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough
- Fever with a rash
In adults, emergency warning signs from flu may present as:
- Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
- Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
- Sudden dizziness
- Severe or persistent vomiting
- Flu-like symptoms that improve but then return with fever and worse cough
If you or your child have these symptoms, it is important to get medical treatment right away.