The Flu: Symptoms and Treatment
From treatment to vaccine, find the information older adults need to fight the flu.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines the flu as a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses that infect the nose, throat, and lungs. It can cause mild to severe illness and, at times, can lead to death.
Getting a yearly flu vaccination is the first and most important step you can take to protect against the flu and its potentially serious complications.
You may have a high risk of complications:
- Older adults are more likely to develop complications from the flu.
- As we get older, our immune systems weaken. That’s why vaccination is so important for people 65 and older.
- The flu vaccination can reduce flu illnesses, doctors’ visits, and prevent flu-related hospitalizations.
What are the main flu symptoms?
The flu shares many of the same symptoms as a cold, but the flu usually starts suddenly.
People who have the flu often feel some or all of these signs and symptoms:
- Feeling feverish or having chills
- Sore throat
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Muscle or body aches
- Fatigue (very tired)
Why get the flu vaccine?
Get your flu shot each year. Vaccines are developed each year based on which flu viruses will be most common. Don’t wait until someone close to you gets the flu. Your body takes about two weeks after vaccination to develop protective antibodies. And in some cases, the flu can often be worse for older adults, especially those with chronic conditions, diseases that suppress the immune system, or respiratory problems. And no, you can’t get the flu from the vaccine! The viruses in the flu shot are killed (inactivated).
How does the flu affect older adults?
The flu can be more serious for some older adults and the elderly, especially for those with underlying medical conditions, or with weakened immune systems. As we age, our immune systems naturally weaken, even if we try to stay healthy. This is another good reason to ensure that as you age, you continue to get your flu shot each year. If you’re a caregiver, make sure to ask the patient’s primary care provider to administer the flu shot during a visit.
What should I do if I think I have the flu?
- See your doctor as soon as you suspect you have the flu.
- Your doctor can prescribe antiviral drugs that can make your illness milder and shorter. These drugs work best if started within two days of getting sick, but starting them later can still be helpful.
- Remember, an antiviral drug can mean the difference between having a milder illness versus a very serious illness that could result in a hospital stay.
If I get the flu, how can I stop the germs from spreading?
- Stay home: You should stay home for 24 hours after your fever is gone.
- Cover coughs and sneezes: Be sure to use a tissue and throw it in the trash.
- Wash your hands often: Wash with soap and water, or use an alcohol-based hand rub.
For more facts about the flu, visit the
Customer Plan Links
Other Cigna Websites
Medicare Advantage Policy Disclaimers
All Cigna products and services are provided exclusively by or through operating subsidiaries of Cigna Corporation. The Cigna name, logos, and other Cigna marks are owned by Cigna Intellectual Property, Inc. All clinical products and services of the LivingWell Health Centers are either provided by or through clinicians contracted with HealthSpring Life & Health Insurance Company, Inc., HealthSpring of Florida, Inc., Bravo Health Mid-Atlantic, Inc., and Bravo Health Pennsylvania, Inc. or employees leased by HS Clinical Services, PC, Bravo Advanced Care Center, PC (PA), Bravo Advanced Care Center, PC (MD) and not by Cigna Corporation. The Cigna name, logos, and other Cigna marks are owned by Cigna Intellectual Property, Inc. All pictures are used for illustrative purposes only.
Cigna contracts with Medicare to offer Medicare Advantage HMO and PPO plans and Part D Prescription Drug Plans (PDP) in select states, and with select State Medicaid programs. Enrollment in Cigna depends on contract renewal.
Medicare Supplement Policy Disclaimers
Medicare Supplement website content not approved for use in: Minnesota, Missouri, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oregon, Virginia.
AN OUTLINE OF COVERAGE IS AVAILABLE UPON REQUEST. We'll provide an outline of coverage to all persons at the time the application is presented.
Our company and agents are not connected with or endorsed by the U.S. Government or the federal Medicare program. This is a solicitation for insurance. An insurance agent may contact you. Premium and benefits vary by plan selected. Plan availability varies by state. Medicare Supplement policies are underwritten by Cigna National Health Insurance Company, Cigna Health and Life Insurance Company, American Retirement Life Insurance Company or Loyal American Life Insurance Company. Each insurer has sole responsibility for its own products.
The following Medicare Supplement Plans are available to persons eligible for Medicare due to disability: Plan A in Arkansas, Connecticut, Indiana, Maryland, Oklahoma, Texas, and Virginia; Plans A, F, and G in North Carolina; and Plans C and D in New Jersey for individuals aged 50-64. Medicare Supplement policies contain exclusions, limitations, and terms under which the policies may be continued in force or discontinued. For costs and complete details of coverage, contact the company.
This website is designed as a marketing aid and is not to be construed as a contract for insurance. It provides a brief description of the important features of the policy. Please refer to the policy for the full terms and conditions of coverage.
American Retirement Life Insurance Company, Cigna National Health Insurance Company and Loyal American Life Insurance Company do not issue policies in New Mexico.
Kansas Disclosures, Exclusions and Limitations
Medicare Supplement Policy Forms: Plan A: CNHIC-MS-AA-A-KS, CNHIC-MS-AO-A-KS; Plan F: CNHIC-MS-AA-F-KS, CNHIC-MS-AO-F-KS; Plan G: CNHIC-MS-AA-G-KS, CNHIC-MS-AO-G-KS; Plan N: CNHIC-MS-AA-N-KS, CNHIC-MS-AO-N-KS
Exclusions and Limitations:
The benefits of this policy will not duplicate any benefits paid by Medicare. The combined benefits of this policy and the benefits paid by Medicare may not exceed one-hundred percent (100%) of the Medicare Eligible Expenses incurred. This policy will not pay benefits for the following:
(1) the Medicare Part B Deductible;
(2) any expense which You are not legally obligated to pay; or services for which no charge is normally made in the absence of insurance;
(3) any services that are not medically necessary as determined by Medicare;
(4) any portion of any expense for which payment is made by Medicare or other government programs (except Medicaid); or for which payment would have been made by Medicare if You were enrolled in Parts A and B of Medicare;
(5) any type of expense not a Medicare Eligible Expense except as provided previously in this policy;
(6) any deductible, Coinsurance or Co-payment not covered by Medicare, unless such coverage is listed as a benefit in this policy; or
(7) Preexisting Conditions: We will not pay for any expenses incurred for care or treatment of a Preexisting Condition for the first six (6) months from the effective date of coverage. This exclusion does not apply if You applied for and were issued this policy under guaranteed issue status; if on the date of application for this policy You had at least six (6) months of prior Creditable Coverage; or, if this policy is replacing another Medicare Supplement policy and a six (6) month waiting period has already been satisfied. Evidence of prior coverage or replacement must have been disclosed on the application for this policy. If You had less than six (6) months prior Creditable Coverage, the Preexisting Conditions limitation will be reduced by the aggregate amount of Creditable Coverage. If this policy is replacing another Medicare Supplement policy, credit will be given for any portion of the waiting period that has been satisfied.