Knowing how to recognize the early signs of the common cold is essential for optimum senior health. Although a person is susceptible to catching a cold at any age, it becomes increasingly important to seek medical care quickly as one advances in age due to the increased risk for more serious infections such as pneumonia. Being able to recognize these five symptoms can ensure that senior adults get the care they need to stay healthy.
Unlike the flu, which generates a high fever and chills, the common cold can give seniors only a mildly elevated temperature. Many seniors may write off this slightly higher temperature as just a part of aging. However, a fever combined with the other symptoms could signal a developing cold.
Increased Mucus Production
Sinus drainage is never enjoyable, and it is common for those with allergies to be accustomed to increased mucus. Typically, allergies will produce clear mucus. Any mucus that has a tint of green or yellow could pose a risk for senior health.
Aches and Pains
Arthritis may cause older adults to experience daily aches and pains. However, these normal pains can be differentiated from a cold by their location. Arthritis pain typically occurs only in the joints, and usually the same joints are affected every time. Muscular aches are usually connected to an illness such as the common cold.
In an attempt to clear mucus from the lungs, a senior’s body will send the signal to cough. This can often be a sign that the cold is turning into a more serious event that may require medication for treatment. Seniors may also notice that coughing fits occur more often with increased activity or at night due to the constant drainage.
The common cold often starts out mild and causes fatigue that increases each day that a person is sick. Over time, the fatigue can make it harder for a senior to fully recover from their cold. If fatigue sets in, it is important to rest, but avoid attributing this symptom to simply aging.
Preventing the common cold involves making sure that seniors eat a nutritious diet, avoid being around sick people and wash their hands on a regular basis. However, even with all of these precautions in place a person can still fall ill. While any one of these symptoms alone may be caused by a different health condition, seniors should always suspect the common cold when they occur together and seek treatment immediately.