Autumns are my favourite time of the year, a season of golden maturity. Complaints about the coughing, sneezing and sore throat from my wife have just alerted me to the fact that we are into October and the onset of colder temperatures. On the trains too, you can see the external signs of the cold and flu season are here. The season normally ends in May.
Like the younger children we, the seniors, need to take precautions this time of the year too for we make up the two most vulnerable age groups. The common cold, which has no practical cures, has rather similar symptoms with influenza, flu as it is commonly known.
As senior adults, we know it is flu when it hits us. That’s the knowledge from long experience. Let’s remind ourselves that flu symptoms may include:
- Fever and extreme coldness (chills shivering, shaking (rigour))
- Nasal congestion
- Body aches, especially joints and throat
- Irritated, watering eyes
- Reddened eyes, skin (especially face), mouth, throat and nose
- Petechial Rash
- In children, gastrointestinal symptoms such as diarrhea and abdominal pain, (may be severe in children with influenza B)
Perhaps the following visual representations of the flu symptoms will help us remember:
Many of the cold symptoms are rather similar with those of flu. It is important to learn the major differences between the two diseases as both are easily transmitted via their cough symptoms. Compared to the common cold, flu symptoms are generally more pronounced e.g. higher fever, higher exhaustion feeling, increased level of headache (headache may be absent in cold patients), aches in muscles and joints (no such aches for cold patients), experiencing chills (absence of chills in cold patients) and the loss of appetite are the main differences. Knowing these differences will help us tell whether a child is suffering from the common cold or the flu.
An estimate for the US is that up to 20% of its population will suffer from the flu this year, and that about 200,000 people will be hospitalized. About 36,000 people is estimated to succumb from flu-related complications.
The American Medical Association ( in its SEASONAL INFLUENZA INFORMATION) and other medical professionals recommend that those who are more vulnerable, specifically the children and the elderly, get a flu vaccination. Experience has taught me to eat healthy, exercise regulary and have enough sleep and reduce physical exertions. And avoid crowded and enclosed places. Stay healthy ….