How to Prevent Respiratory Infections in Seniors
As you get older, the chance that a simple infection or illness can transform into something more dangerous increases dramatically. For senior citizens, even a cold or a flu can be deadly. You certainly want your senior friend or family member to live out their days with comfort and happiness, but you cannot leave things to chance. One serious problem that can occur is a respiratory infection. The upper or lower respiratory infection is one of the most common reasons people reach out to a doctor, and as you age you become more susceptible. These infections are usually caused by a viral pathogen, and there are literally dozens of possibilities. It usually starts out as the flu, and then settles into your chest. If it travels lower it can turn into pneumonia, and if a senior has any other medical issue weakening his system that could be devastating. Here are a couple of tips to help prevent respiratory infections in seniors.
First of all, consider getting a flu vaccine. The World Health Organization assesses the most troubling strains of influenza each season, and then develops a vaccine that counteracts that particular virus. A flu shot won’t absolutely guarantee you won’t end up with a respiratory infection, but it’s certainly a solid security measure. Most doctors suggest that all senior citizens get the flu shot. There are now vaccines that can be given through a small needle, so it’s nearly painless. After your flu shot you could experience some symptoms as if you developed the flu, but these will go away in a couple of days.
If you’re at a high risk for the flu, which seniors in cold weather environments are, you might consider going on an antiviral regimen. There are certain medicines that can help you avoid getting the flu that are even stronger than the flu shot. They aren’t used as often, but they will definitely help a senior have the best chance of missing out on a respiratory infection if he or she is exposed to it by someone in the same home. These medications should be used in conjunction with the flu shot, not as a replacement.
There are some other common sense measures you can take that will help out as well. The best way to avoid an illness that precedes a respiratory infection is to wash your hands as frequently as possible. You will always run the risk of coming into contact with someone who has been exposed. This is especially true for seniors who reside in a group living environment or are in a hospital. By washing your hands completely with soap and water you will cut down on the risk of catching something due to touching an exposed person or piece of furniture. You should also avoid rubbing your eyes or touching your nose and mouth. Use a hand cleanser made from alcohol if you are traveling and cannot wash your hands.
Seniors should also be careful about how they come into contact with groups of people. Air travel should certainly be avoided during flu season if at all possible. If you need to fly or be in a crowd, consider wearing a face mask. Don’t share anything you eat and drink, and increase the frequency of hand washing. You’ll see tips like this on the websites for any affordable health insurance provider, but ask your doctor if you need any further information or have specific questions.