Consult Your Doctor For Adult Immunisation

(MENAFN- Khaleej Times) Published: Wed 24 Apr 2024, 9:07 AM

We all want to keep as healthy as possible and for as long as possible. However, as we age, we need to be more conscious about the health challenges we might face and ensure that we take the necessary steps to stay in good health as we grow older, according to an expert.

On the back of World Immunisation Week this April, Dr Yanal Salam, head of the internal medicine department at Emirates Hospital Jumeirah in Dubai, highlights the most important health questions patients may be asking about healthy ageing and adult immunisation as part of their regular check-ups.

World Immunization Week, celebrated in the last week of April, aims to highlight the collective action needed to protect people from vaccine-preventable diseases.

Excerpts from the interview:

'Healthy ageing', as a term, describes the process of developing and maintaining physical, mental, and social ability to enable wellbeing in older age - but how does one achieve that?

Making more regular appointments with your doctor can ensure better, and more long-lasting, protection from potentially serious health problems. It's good to be aware of how age can impact your health, and what new health conversations people aged 50 and over should initiate with a healthcare professional relating to their risk for common and viral disease that come about as an individual age.

What happens to my immune system as I age?

The immune system's ability to protect us changes as we age, becoming gradually weaker and making us less effective in fighting off disease and infection. At around 50 years of age, the risk of infection and more serious outcomes becomes greater.

As the body ages, the complications from diseases can occur more frequently, and more severely. However fortunately, advancements within the medical field have allowed us to be protected from other diseases such as influenza, pneumonia, and shingles. In the case of the varicella-zoster virus (VZV), the decline of the immune system function may lead to the reactivation of the virus as shingles.

How can I keep my immune system strong?

Your doctor will be able to provide guidance on the lifestyle changes you can make to keep your immune system strong. There is no one-size-fits-all answer, and the approach needs to be tailored to you.

Overall, improving your diet, getting enough sleep, exercising regularly, reducing stress, quitting smoking, and other healthy habits, can all be integral in protecting your immune system and ensuring it stays stronger, for longer.

However, another very important factor of healthy ageing is adult immunisation. Fortunately, advancements in modern medicine have allowed us to be protected from other diseases. Available vaccines for diseases such as influenza, shingles, RSV, and HPV are safeguards for individuals that can allow adults to maintain a higher quality of life and maintain their health as they age.

What happens if I do not keep up with my vaccines as an adult?

It is important to discuss with your doctor what vaccines you are currently eligible for and what you need to be taking. As mentioned, vaccines provide us with immunisation, and without immunisation, the risk of contracting preventable diseases increases.

The consequences of contracting such viral diseases as an adult may be very dire as they may lead to hospitalisation and potential long-term health issues. Long-term health issues, therefore, have lasting impacts on the quality of life as adults may experience long-term fatigue and weakness. In other cases, one infection may lead to the exacerbation of other underlying conditions such as asthma or cardiovascular diseases.

What are the vaccines I need to be taking as an adult?

The age in which you need to make sure you are keeping up with certain vaccines will vary, hence it is important to have that conversation with your trusted doctor. However, from a medical standpoint, here are four examples of the recommended vaccines available in the UAE for adults.

Firstly, and most importantly, is the influenza, or the flu, vaccine. This vaccine protects you from the different seasonal flu strains and reduces the risk of severe illness and the risk of hospitalisation or any other possible complications.

The shingles vaccine protects you from shingles, otherwise known as herpes zoster, which is caused by the reactivation of the varicella-zoster virus (the same virus that causes chickenpox). Being protected against shingles means preventing painful rashes and the likelihood of postherpetic neuralgia, which is a common complication of the disease.

The HPV vaccine protects individuals from the human papillomavirus, which is quite often intertwined with certain types of cancer and genital warts.

Lastly, the RSV vaccine is recommended for older adults at high risk of the respiratory syncytial virus. It helps individuals gain protection from further respiratory complications and diseases such as pneumonia and bronchiolitis, which are associated with RSV.

By proactively staying up to date with these vaccines and having regular conversations with your trusted physician on ways to promote healthy ageing, you can work towards a much healthier future for you and your loved ones and enjoy a much higher quality of life.


Khaleej Times

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