Influenza Risk Groups

Influenza, commonly referred to as flu, is an airborne virus that attacks the respiratory system. On its own, flu is generally not considered a fatal disease. It can be much more harmful and dangerous, however, if you already suffer from another disease. Those more likely to suffer fatal consequences with flu are considered to be part of the influenza risk group. People who fall into this category should be careful to lessen their chances of contracting the disease.

Flu risk groups

young and elderly

If you are over 65 years of age, or under 5, you have a higher chance of suffering ill side effects of influenza. Either your body and immune system are not yet developed enough to ward off the flu virus or your body has become weaker through age and your immune system may not be strong enough.

problems with asthma

Those suffering from serious health conditions already, before contracting flu, are at higher risk of detrimental side effects. If the body is preoccupied with fighting off a disease already, flu could make you more vulnerable to the problem. Common conditions that raise a person's risk of flu are:

  • Chronic lung diseases such as asthma
  • Cancer
  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • Kidney, liver and blood disease
  • Neurological and neuromuscular diseases
immune disease

If you are suffering from a weakened immune system, you will be at greater flu risk. People with HIV or AIDS fall into this category, as these are diseases that directly attack and destroy the immune system.

pregnant mother

If you are pregnant you may not have a strong enough immune system to ward of dangerous complications caused by the flu virus, both for yourself and your unborn baby.

chemotherapy image

People who are in chemotherapy to treat cancer will be under tremendous stress due to the harmful affects of the treatment. While it is working to cure cancer, it also weakens the body's defence system, and thus contracting flu whilst undergoing chemotherapy can be very dangerous.

Additional flu risk groups

There are other people at higher flu risk that do not necessarily have any pre-existing medical conditions. They are people who spend a lot of time with infected patients or animals, such as healthcare workers or farmers.

Flu risk precautions

There are several precautionary methods people can follow to prevent contracting the disease if they fall into a high flu risk group. Firstly, if you contract the disease and you are at high risk, do not hesitate to contact a doctor.

To be safe, you should consider getting a prescription of anti-viral medication to keep in hand, in case you recognise early on that you have contracted flu. If you realise it early enough, the anti-viral drugs can help speed up recovery and minimise the effect of the virus on the body.

Limit your contact with people who have suffered from flu recently or are currently suffering from it. Avoid high-risk areas like public swimming pools and gyms during the winter if a strain of influenza is known to be spreading.

Have a seasonal flu vaccination. This is available from most local chemists and is worth having, especially if you belong to a high flu risk category.

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