When to Seek Medical Attention for Flu

November 29, 2018
Janelle Thomas MSN, RN
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Many people believe that the flu isn’t a serious condition, but for people at high risk for flu complications, such as seniors, it can be.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that around 310,000 people in the United States are hospitalized during the 2015-2016 flu season.

Flu can cause complications, like bronchitis, pneumonia, and ear infections. Worse, when a person already has a medical condition, flu can make symptoms worse, even leading to death. Knowing when an older adult who has the flu needs medical attention could make the difference between life and death.

What Conditions Are Worsened by the Flu?

There are several conditions that put a person at greater risk for complications from the flu. Some of those conditions are:

Flu Symptoms

Often it can be hard to tell if a person has the flu or a cold.

Generally, the flu happens more suddenly and has more severe symptoms. The flu usually lasts one to two weeks.

Symptoms of the flu include:

  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Stuffy or runny nose
  • Headache
  • Feeling tired
  • Fever
  • Body aches

Signs of a Flu Emergency

If you notice any of the following signs in your aging family member when they have the flu, seek medical care:

  • Wheezing
  • Breathing problems
  • Confusion
  • Coughing that produces blood
  • A loud cough that sounds like a bark
  • Chest pain
  • A blue tint to the nails or lips
  • Coughing or a fever that does not go away or that gets severe

Flu Treatment

Unfortunately, there isn’t a lot that can be done to treat the flu once a person has it.

If care is sought within 48 hours of the first sign of symptoms, some drugs can reduce symptoms.

Other things that can help with flu symptoms are:

  • Resting
  • Drinking plenty of liquids
  • Over the counter painkillers
  • Over the counter antihistamines and decongestants

Of course, before giving an older adult any medications, it’s a good idea to talk to their doctor to make certain there won’t be any interactions with medicines they are already taking.

Contact Care Options for Kids for Home Health Care Services

If your aging family member comes down with the flu, having an elder home care provider stay with them when you can’t be there can ensure they receive the care they need.

Elder home care providers can allow the person to rest by taking care of things around the house that they aren’t up to.

They can also remind the person when it is time to take medications. In addition, elder home care providers can bring drinks to the older adult to make certain they don’t become dehydrated.

If you or an aging loved one are considering home health care services, contact the caring staff at Care Options for Kids. Call today (888) 592-5855.