Dealing with a cold or flu is usually uncomfortable and annoying. Aside from the aches, fever, fatigue and a few missed days of activity, these viruses can result in complications like hospitalization and even death for adults over 65.
For older adults, the flu can be highly dangerous. That’s because as we age, our immune systems weaken, which can make viruses and other illnesses harder to overcome.
Healthy habits like getting enough rest, eating a healthy diet, frequently washing your hands and avoiding those who are sick can help protect against cold and flu viruses. Try these additional ways to fight a cold or flu.
Sipping on clear liquids like water, juice, broth or lemon water with honey can help you stay hydrated. Drinking plenty of fluids helps loosen any congestion and prevents dehydration. If your throat is sore, munching on ice chips or sipping lemon water with honey can help ease the discomfort.
Your body needs extra fluids to heal during a bout of illness. Even a slight rise in body temperature can increase your metabolism, which means your body will need additional fluids to help with metabolic reactions.
Moisturize the air:
Your body isn’t the only thing that can benefit from added moisture during a bout of sickness. If you’re congested, adding moisture to the air can help ease congestion. The cooler dry air of winter can often lead to dry, irritated sinuses, noses and lips.
If you use a humidifier, be sure to keep it clean. Change the water daily and clean it according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Know when to go to the doctor:
If you have flu symptoms—fever, cough, body aches, chills and fatigue—the CDC recommends seeking medical care as soon as possible. Prompt medical care helps you stay as healthy as possible, especially if you have other medical conditions, and allows you to receive anti-viral drugs, which work best within the first 48 hours of flu symptoms.
Though a cold is milder than the flu, it can still cause complications like sinus infections, bronchitis, ear infections or even pneumonia. WebMD recommends contacting your doctor if your cold symptoms don’t seem to be improving or you have any of the following symptoms:
- Flu symptoms
- Severe vomiting
- Severe sinus pain in your face or forehead
- Swollen glands in your neck or jaw
You should go to your nearest emergency room if you experience any of these symptoms:
- Pain or pressure in your chest
- Trouble breathing
- Fainting or feeling faint
Practicing healthy habits daily can help protect you from colds and flus, but if you do get sick, keeping yourself hydrated, moistening the air, getting enough rest and knowing when to seek medical care can protect you from dangerous complications.