Complications of the flu can send you to the hospital.
Classic symptoms include:
But, that’s not always the case for the elderly — a high risk group for the flu.
Dr. Zane Saul said, “You may get confusion as your first symptom. So, don’t wait for the classic fever, cough, body aches to happen.”
Dr. Saul, Chief of Infectious Disease at Bridgeport Hospital, was also sharing this not-so-well-known fact:
“Some elderly people can’t mount a fever. Sometimes, they have a low temperature,” he said.
So, pay attention to an overall change in their behavior.
Dr. Saul added, “If they are more sleepy, if they are confused, if they’re not eating or drinking, bring them to the hospital. Bring them to the physician and get checked out.”
When it comes to children, another group highly susceptible to the flu, there are other things to worry about.
“They are young children and the result is, they can’t tell you how they are feeling or what their problems are,” said Dr. Harris Jacobs, Chief of Pediatrics of Yale New Haven Children’s Hospital at Bridgeport Hospital.
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He recommends parents be on the lookout for more tell-tale signs.
“Some things parents should worry about are a child not taking fluids, a child crying and not producing tears, if their skin lost elasticity,” he said.
Difficulty breathing is also a major concern.
A flu shot helps prevent the flu or minimize symptoms.
The CDC recently approved a nasal spray for children, though the American Academy of Pediatrics says stick with the injectable.
Dr. Jacobs added, “The American Academy of Pediatrics is being cautious. It simply says ‘let’s make sure this thing actually works before we use it.'”
There is a high-dose vaccine for those 65 and older.
“It helps as much as the flu shot is going to help,” said Dr. Saul, “But it gives them a better chance at having an adequate immune response based on the fact their age impairs their body’s ability to develop antibodies.”
Pregnant women are also high-risk and should get the flu shot.
Dr. Saul said being pregnant affects their immune system, making them vulnerable to the flu.
Be sure to check in with your primary care physician if you have any concerns.
Dr. Jacobs said not recognizing what’s going on could delay life-saving treatment in the emergency department.