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Flu Season: Recognizing Symptoms In Seniors
Influenza and related illnesses continue to be widespread across Georgia. So far this season, 47 Georgians have died from the flu, and more than half of those deaths were people over the age of 65.Influenza and related illnesses continue to be widespread across Georgia. GPB’s Ellen Eldridge has the latest numbers.
The Georgia Department of Public Health shows nearly 2,000 people have been hospitalized with flu-like illness so far this season, and 131 of those occurred Feb. 2 through 8.
DPH epidemiologist Dr. Cherie Drenzek said the early appearance of Influenza B means children are more likely to get sick, and 1,472 children ages 4 and under experienced flu-like illness during the sixth week of 2020. The Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports 92 pediatric deaths since the start of flu season.
Now, influenza A is also on the rise.
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Mary Anne Cadger, a registered nurse and the vice president of care with Sunrise Senior Living, said seniors may not have the same symptoms as other adults when sick with flu. Whereas common symptoms include body aches, cough and congestion, older adults may have generalized weakness.
“They may have dizziness; they may have confusion,” Cadger said. "Or, if they have a history of dementia, they could have increased confusion."
Flu can also exacerbate existing respiratory or lung disease.
While officials won't identify when the peak of flu season hit until after it ends, Cadger predicts flu-like illness will likely peak in February.
"Typically it peaks in December, January or February," she said. "Flu can continue into the spring. You can see it in March, April and sometimes, some years, even into May. So it's not too late to get the flu vaccine now."
Along with proper hand washing and hygiene, Cadger says getting a flu shot is the best way to protect yourself and older loved ones from sickness.