“What is the matter with the flu this year?” you asked.

Perhaps you have heard the story of a young 21-year-old bodybuilder who recently died from apparent influenza (flu) complications. Maybe you heard the many news reports about how bad the flu season already is.  We are facing one of the worst flu seasons in years.  Many of you have asked me questions about the flu.  I decided to answer them below. 


Why is this flu season so bad?

The virus responsible for most of this year’s flu is the H3N2 influenza A.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in the past, this virus caused more people ages 65 and older and young children to be hospitalized and die when compared to other age groups.  Unfortunately, the vaccine does not do a great job of protecting against this strain of the flu virus. 


What does hurricane Maria have to do with the flu?

Part of the treatment of a patient who is hospitalized with the flu is intravenous (IV) fluid hydration.  To make matters worse, there is a shortage of IV fluid after the devastation caused by hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico.     


I am young and health.  Can I still get the flu and have complications from it?

People who have an immature or a poor immune system are at higher risk of developing complications from the flu.  This means that young children, adults over the age of 65, people suffering from chronic diseases, such as cancer, and those who are obese and pregnant can get very sick and possibly die from a flu infection.  Still, young and health people can get the flu and get very sick and possibly die.      


How do I know if I have the flu?

If you experience some combination of the following symptoms, cough, fever, sore throat, body ache, body weakness, tiredness, and headache, you should contact your doctor as soon as possible.  Your doctor will examine you and run tests to check if it is the flu.  If you have those symptoms, please wear a mask and avoid exposing other people to possible flu.


Why doesn’t my doctor give me antibiotics for the flu?  Wouldn’t antibiotics make me feel better faster?

The flu is caused by viruses and not bacteria.  Antibiotics are medications that are used to kills bacteria.  Instead, the treatment for viruses are called antivirals.  In the case of influenza, your doctor may prescribe you an antiviral called Tamiflu (oseltamivir).  This medication works on both influenza A and B.  It should help you feel better and recover from the flu sooner. 


What can I do to protect myself (and others)?

·       You can still get the flu vaccine.  Although the vaccine is not great at preventing this year’s flu infection, some protection is better than no protection. 

·       Be religious about washing your hands.

·       Don’t be in close contact with people who are sick.

·       Sleep well.

·       Drink a lot of fluid.

·       Stay home if you are sick, except to seek medical care.

·       Wear a mask if you are sick, especially if you are coughing or sneezing.

·       Call your doctor if you think you were exposed to the flu.  In certain cases, antiviral drugs can be given to prevent influenza. 


You can find more information about the flu at www.CDC.gov.  You should always contact your own physician if you any health-related questions. 


Stay informed.  Stay Healthy.   Be joyful!


Disclaimer:  The information displayed in this blog are for informational purposes only.  It should not be used to substitute for your physician’s (or qualified health care provider’s) medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.  Always seek the advice of your physician (or qualified health care provider) regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen, and never delay in seeking their care and advice because of something you read on this blog. 


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