As colder weather approaches, so does flu season. For most victims, that means four or five days of illness. But seniors face a more serious problem. Pneumonia is widely considered to be a serious complication of the flu in the elderly. The CDC estimates that about 30,000 deaths occur annually from complications associated with the flu. Most are elderly, and the most common complication is pneumonia.
Signs and Symptoms: A productive cough with yellowish sputum is worrisome for pneumonia. Shortness of breath, fever, and weakness are common. Inadequately treated, it can be fatal.
What to do: See your doctor for evaluation. A chest x ray may confirm the diagnosis. Early treatment with antibiotics, in appropriate cases, is beneficial. Prevention involves common sense steps. Stop smoking. Avoid congested, indoor areas at the height of Flu Season. Vaccinations for the flu and a new booster vaccination for pneumonia (Prevnar 13) are available, designed for seniors who are the highest risk of complications.
Thought for the day: Once the golden years are upon ya, get those shots to prevent pneumonia.
What’s Going Around is contributed by family practice doctor Kyle Scarborough, M.D. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.