Influenza: Not Just another Name for a Cold

Influenza is not just a fancy name for a cold. While both the common cold and the flu are caused by viruses, a cold is usually harmless but the flu is potentially life-threatening. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that between 9 and 35 million people get the flu every year in the United States. Between 140,000 and 710,000 of these people will require hospitalization. Between 12,000 and 56,000 will die.

Flu season typically starts in October and ends in May, though the number of infections peaks between December and February.

The flu is highly contagious, especially in the first 3 to 4 days after infection with the virus. Unfortunately, symptoms can begin anywhere from 1 to 4 days after infection, which means that you can get the flu from someone who doesn’t even feel or appear to be sick. Moreover, some people can be infected with the flu virus, not become sick themselves, but still be able to spread the virus and make other people sick.

The best way to avoid this dangerous virus? Get vaccinated. The CDC recommends that everyone over the age of six months get vaccinated every year against that year’s flu strain.

It is especially important for seniors to be vaccinated, because they are at high risk of developing complications from the flu. People who have medical conditions, including asthma, heart disease, diabetes, liver or kidney disorders, or weakened immune systems are also more likely to have serious complications from the flu.

Don’t like to get shots? That’s no excuse for avoiding the flu vaccine: it is available as a nasal spray, as well as an injection. And the nasal spray is no less effective than the injectable vaccine.

The flu vaccine is available at doctors’ offices, health clinics, and even at pharmacies and some schools, and is covered by Medicare and most private insurance plans.

At the Regency Nursing and Rehabilitation Centers, we offer the very best of care in a patient-centered environment, and that means taking adequate protection against anything that might put our residents at risk, including the flu. It also means following our residents’ health carefully, listening to them, and respecting their capabilities, while helping them to achieve maximum functionality and independence — and always maintaining the highest professional and quality standards in our staff and our facilities. Our 25 years of excellent care have led to us being awarded a Best Nursing Homes award by US News & World Today, a 5-Star rating by USA Today, and an A+ rating by the Better Business Bureau, among many other awards.

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