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Cold, Flu, & Cough Health Center

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How Does the Flu Affect Older Adults?

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Can Older Adults Use the Nasal Spray Flu Vaccine?

FluMist is a nasal spray flu vaccine that contains a live flu virus. It isn’t recommended for adults over age 49.

When’s the Best Time to Get the Shot?

Flu season can begin as early as September and last as late as May. Your best bet is to get a flu shot early in the season so your body has a chance to build up immunity to the virus. It takes about 2 weeks for the flu shot to protect you. If you don't get it early, getting a flu shot later still helps.

How Is Flu Treated?

Contact your doctor if you get symptoms. He’ll check for complications and suggest treatment. He might prescribe an antiviral medication like oseltamivir (Tamiflu), peramivir (Rapivab), or zanamivir (Relenza).

Other ways to treat flu symptoms in older adults include:

  • Get lots of rest.
  • Drink plenty of liquids.
  • Ask the doctor or pharmacist before you take a new over-the-counter cold or flu medicine. He can make sure it won't interfere with prescription drugs or complicate your other medical conditions.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Jennifer Robinson, MD on May 09, 2015
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