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Underlying Health Conditions Could Seriously Increase Your Flu Risks

As the new flu season approaches, it’s time to consider getting your flu shot. Some folks think that age is the only deciding factor in getting a flu shot – but leaving shots to only the very young or elderly could expose a wide range of people to risks if they have underlying health conditions. Getting a flu shot is so important these days, that insurance or pharmacies commonly cover most of if not the entire cost.

So while flu might not seem like a big deal to many people, potential complications can be quite serious. And if you have an underlying health condition such as heart disease, diabetes, or lung disease, the risks are even greater.

Heightened Risk of Complications

The National Foundation for Infectious Diseases warns that those with chronic health conditions should be especially mindful during flu season. Health conditions such as these contribute to increased risks for developing serious, even fatal, complications when it comes to the flu.

“Flu can be the first domino that falls in a slow slide to progressive disability over time,” explains NFID Medical Director William Schaffner.

Not only can the flu lead to issues like pneumonia and bronchitis, but it can also trigger other critical medical health conditions. For example, the body’s inflammatory response to the virus can sometimes preclude a heart attack or stroke.

Age-Related Risks

Because older individuals are more likely to have chronic health conditions, their vulnerability is also increased. When it comes to flu-related deaths, individuals aged 65 and up accounting for 90 percent of them. They’re also the most frequently hospitalized as well.

Folks between the ages of 50 and 64 aren’t far behind though.

Preventative Measures

While it’s not foolproof, you can greatly reduce your risks by getting vaccinated against the flu.

It’s also worth noting that the shot is often covered by insurance at no (or a very low) cost to you. If you’re over 65, be sure to ask for the high-dose or adjuvanted version of the shot.

Not only can it reduce your risk of catching the flu, but it can also greatly mitigate the risk of complications if you do. So, while you may still get the virus, being vaccinated could at least keep you out of the hospital.

Plus, as a bonus, it also lessens the chance that you’ll spread the virus should you have it.

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