This year’s flu season is well underway, and this one is a bad one.
The average flu season can start as early as November and last up until May, with peaks between the months of January and February. The overall impact of the flu season can vary season to season, often time resulting in hospitalizations, other illnesses and viruses, and can become fatal.
The CDC has reported this year’s flu season as “widespread,” affecting 49 states, with 1 in 13 hospital visits being flu-related.
With the flu season having no boundaries this year, anyone is susceptible to catching the flu. Here are some common, frequently asked questions you may have about the flu season.
What is making this flu season especially bad?
Each year’s vaccine is adjusted to try to match the strains at could be the most dominant. The more closely the vaccine matches the year’s strain, the less severe the flu season will be.
This year’s flu season’s predominant strain is H3N2, which is the cause of the worst outbreaks of the two types of influenza, and is the result of more hospitalizations, illnesses, and deaths.
This does not mean you should skip out on your yearly vaccination, as the flu shot is your best defense against catching the flu.
Who is at risk for the flu?
Each year, the flu leads to thousands of deaths and hospitalizations. While the flu can make anyone sick, there are certain individuals who are at higher risk of flu-related health complications, including pneumonia and bronchitis. Those who are especially at risk include:
- Young children, particularly those under 5
- Pregnant women
- Adults over 65
- Those with chronic health conditions such as asthma, heart or lung disease, and endocrine disorders
What are symptoms of the flu?
What can be easily mistaken as a regular cold can definitely be the flu during this time of year.
Besides symptoms of coughing and sneezing, some symptoms of the flu to look out for include:
- Body aches
- Loss of Appetite
- High Fever
- Head Congestion
- Chest Discomfort
How can I prevent myself from catching the flu?
While receiving your annual flu shot increases your chances of avoiding the flu and lessening your symptoms, widespread flu activity can make anyone susceptible to catching the virus.
A few ways you can protect yourself and your loved ones against flu-like symptoms include:
- Frequently washing your hands
- Sanitizing frequently touched surfaces
- Avoiding touching your eyes, nose and mouth
- Avoiding contact with those who are sick
- Staying home when you are sick
How do I know whether I have the flu or just a really bad cold?
Cold and flu-like symptoms share similarities, but flu symptoms can come on suddenly whereas a regular cold builds up over the course of a few days.
If you are confused whether you have a cold, the flu, or pneumonia, the best thing you can do us to seek evaluation by a physician.
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