Flu season is especially rough for people at high risk of developing complications from the virus. While typically healthy people might experience fever, body aches, and congestion, they usually recover within a few weeks with over-the-counter symptom relief and rest.

Certain populations, however, are at serious risk of flu complications, including pneumonia, sinus infections, ear infections, and bronchitis.  If you fall into these or other high-risk categories, it’s especially important to avoid contracting the flu and take extra steps to care for yourself should you fall ill.

Who’s at risk?

People at risk of developing flu-related complications include children younger than 5 and adults older than 65. Pregnant women and residents of long-term care facilities and nursing homes also tend to develop flu-related complications more often than the average population.

Certain health conditions put you at greater risk of health complications should you contract the flu. These include:

  • Blood, kidney, liver, and endocrine disorders
  • Heart disease
  • Weakened immune systems
  • Asthma.

Get the flu vaccine

Get the flu vaccine each year as soon as it’s available. The vaccine changes every year to respond to how quickly the flu virus itself mutates. The vaccine is the best defense against getting the flu, and even if you should still get it, you’ll likely experience a milder case.

Protect yourself with everyday steps

While you always want to try to avoid people who have the flu, it’s especially important if you’re at high risk of complications, even if you’ve received the flu vaccine. If someone in your home has the virus, do your best to stay out of the rooms they’re in and keep your distance when they sneeze or cough.

Wash your hands often with soap and water or a hand sanitizer, and cover your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze. Use a sanitizer to clean shared surfaces, such as office phones, countertops, airplane trays, and gym equipment.  

Eat a healthy diet, get plenty of sleep, and avoid stress, all of which can boost your immune system.

Treat symptoms early

If you’re in a high-risk category and have been exposed to the flu or are showing early signs of the virus, contact the experts at River Oaks ER for an antiviral medication. An antiviral is not an antibiotic or over-the-counter medication, but it’s designed to prevent serious complications in people who are in high-risk categories. The average person who becomes infected with the flu generally doesn’t need an antiviral.

People who receive an antiviral usually experience a milder infection and can avoid a hospital stay due to flu complications. Research shows an antiviral work best if taken within two days of the onset of symptoms.

The flu can be a serious enough annoyance for the average person, but if you have a health condition or are otherwise at a heightened risk, the flu can mean weeks off your feet — and even hospitalization.

If you come down with the flu and have a high fever or weakened immune system, the team at River Oaks ER can help. Don’t hesitate to come into the office if you’re concerned about your flu condition.