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Cold, Flu, & Cough Health Center

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How Does the Flu Affect Older Adults?

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Older adults and people with chronic diseases are more likely to have problems from the flu. It often leads to a hospital stay, and sometimes it can be fatal. But this condition is easy to prevent, and the proper steps can keep you healthy during flu season.

How Do You Know You Have It?

Flu symptoms in older adults are pretty much the same as in other age groups. They may include:

Does the Flu Cause Stomach Problems?

It’s more common in children, but older adults sometimes have stomach symptoms -- like nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea -- with this illness.

What Other Problems Come With It?

The flu can lead to:

Call your doctor immediately if you have any of these symptoms:

Can You Prevent the Flu?

Yes. The best way to prevent it is to get an annual flu vaccine.

Getting the shot is a smart idea. It makes a big difference in hospitalization and death rates among older adults who live at home and those in nursing homes.

A high-dose flu vaccine is made just for seniors. It has four times as much active ingredient as a regular flu shot. It’s recommended for people in this age group, if it's available.

Keep in mind that the seasonal flu viruses change each year, so older adults need to get a new flu shot each fall.

Also, there are two vaccines to prevent pneumonia. If you’re a healthy adult over age 65, the CDC suggests you get both vaccines. The timing and sequence will vary depending on what vaccine you’ve had before.

Where Do You Get a Flu Shot?

The CDC offers an online flu shot clinic locator. Flu vaccinations are easier to find than ever. You can get them at walk-in clinics in many pharmacies and grocery stores. That's in addition to local health departments and many doctors' offices.

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