Boomers beware – you might be more at risk of flu than you think

(NC) When we think about people who might be most affected by flu season, most of us picture vulnerable groups such as children or seniors. But these aren’t the only people at risk of the potentially devastating consequences of flu.

If you or a loved one are 50 years of age or older, the risk of contracting the flu is higher than you might think.

As we age, our immune systems weaken naturally, increasing the risk of contracting infections like influenza. The weakening of the immune system can result in higher incidence and severity of infectious diseases like influenza, as well as lower strength and persistence of antibody responses to vaccines.

Adults 50 years and older have medical conditions that are more frequently linked to flu complications, compared to younger adults. Conditions such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease increase the risk of hospitalization and heart attacks when combined with the flu. Every year the flu contributes to an average of 12,200 hospitalizations and 3,500 deaths.

Prioritize your health and stay healthy this season with these tips:

  1. Get vaccinated. The flu shot is the first and most important step to protecting yourself against the flu.
  2. Maintain a healthy diet. Eat a nutritious diet with loads of fruits and vegetables and stay hydrated with fluids. Keep active, as this will help boost your immunity, which is key in staying healthy throughout the flu season.
  3. Practice good health habits. Wash and sanitize your hands regularly, wipe down surfaces in your home and workspace, and stay away from those who are sick with the flu.

For more information, talk to your healthcare provider.