A challenge to older Americans: Take the flu seriously

Flu can disrupt everyday life

The CDC estimates that the flu virus causes between 9 million and 49 million flu-related illnesses each year. It can worsen symptoms of respiratory disorders, such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Vaught is one of many who have caught the flu while living with asthma. “Everything was worse when I got the flu, especially my asthma. I remember losing 7 or 8 pounds and could barely lift my head,” she said.

JoJo O’Neal, a radio personality and fitness advocate who lives with asthma, had to stop everything when she was struck with the flu twice in one season. She took several days off work, rescheduled important meetings and missed out on personal commitments. “It felt like a truck ran over me,” said O’Neal. “It took over 10 days for me to finally feel better. I even had to cancel a meeting with the asthma support group I facilitate!”

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