pigThe H1N1 flu virus ( commonly known as Swine Flu) is still considered a pandemic.  In the past 2 weeks, the number of cases in the United States has continued to increase and the number of hospitalizations and death because of flu is higher than expected.

The curious thing about the H1N1 Flu is that the elderly (those persons over the age of 65) are the least likely to be infected by this virus.

Dr. Alicia Arbaje of John Hopkins School of Medicine states that this might be because they have some previous immunity to this flu.  In fact, lab tests have indicated that those over age 65 ARE showing some immunity to the H1N1 virus.

But…..if an elderly person does catch this flu, they are at greater risk for serious complications.  One reason is because elders don’t show their symptoms as much as younger people do.  They are much less likely to develop a fever (which is a major symptom of this flu) which would make it difficult to diagnose and treat and also, once they get it, it is more difficult to treat them. If an elder does contract the H1N1 flu virus, they should be treated with anti-virals as soon as possible.

Some signs of this flu in the person over 65 are a change in breathing, difficulty waking, fatigue, and previously undiagnosed cardiac symptoms. Although seniors over the age of 65 are not on the prioity list to receive the H1N1 flu vaccine, it is important for them to receive the regular seasonal flu vaccine and, if their pneumonia vaccine is not up to date, it is important for them to receive that vaccine, as well.  Pneumonia can be a serious complication of either type of flu.

Still, the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) recommend that everyone take the normal precautions to avoid catching either flu.

  • Take everyday actions to stay healthy.
    • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
    • Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hands cleaners are also effective.
    • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread that way.
    • Stay home if you get sick.  Do NOT go to work or school and limit contact with others to keep from infecting them.
    • Pay attention to your local community health department who will advise on school closures, avoiding crowds in certain areas, etc.
    • Eat more healthy foods, get plenty of rest and try to avoid stressful situations that may lower your resistance.


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