The Corona Virus (COVID-19) is all over the news. People around the world are worried about contracting the deadly disease.
Here, in the United States, do you need to be concerned?
Just like the common cold, COVID-19 attacks the respiratory system and causes symptoms like fever and cough. People feel ill because they’ve never encountered this virus before and need time to build up an immunity.
But the bottom line is this: We are still in flu season and that’s a more immediate danger – especially to seniors. If you are an older adult, use these tips to help reduce the chance of getting either illness:
You Are Likely to Get Sick
As we age, our frequency of illness becomes less and less. That’s because a lifetime of sicknesses has helped build up an immunity to many common viruses and bacteria.
Still, viruses mutate all the time – that’s why you catch colds every year.
COVID-19 is in a class of viruses referred to as human coronaviruses (HCoVs) – the same type of illness that causes epidemics such as SARS and MERS. While these viruses are absolutely terrifying, they’re also generally easy to contain.
The World Health Organization constantly monitors new outbreaks of such illnesses and works with health agencies around the world to prevent pandemics. Currently, although the newest coronavirus outbreak has spread outside of China, the mortality rate has been very low.
So far, COVID-19 has causes more than 75,000 illnesses and 2,000 deaths. That may seem like a lot, but it’s nothing when compared with the flu, which has already caused an estimated 26 million illnesses and 14,000 deaths just this season.
How to Stay Healthy
The CDC recommends that all people over the age of 6 months get vaccinated against the flu. Because people aged 65 years and old are at a higher risk of developing serious complications from flu compared to younger adults, there are two vaccines designed specifically for the older population.
In addition to getting the flu shot, the CDC recommends these everyday preventative measures:
- Avoid close contact: Avoid being in close contact with people who are sick. Likewise, if you are sick, stay home whenever possible to avoid spreading germs.
- Wash your hands: Washing your hands is the single-most effective way to avoid sickness during cold and flu season. Sing the ABC song or Happy Birthday to ensure you’re washing for the appropriate length of time.
- Avoid touching your face: Try to hold off on scratching your nose, putting your fingers near your eyes, picking up food with your fingers, or anything else that may put your hands near your face. Germy fingers near open orifices is one of the fastest ways to fall ill!
- Clean and disinfect surfaces: Those with cold and flu can spread germs up to seven days after being ill. To stay safe, regularly disinfect all surfaces in your home – even if you and those around you seem well.
- Practice good health habits: A strong, healthy body is more likely to fight off illness than one that is run down and worn. Try to eat a healthy diet, get plenty of sleep, and take measures to stay stress-free.