How to Handle a Harsh Flu Season

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Hot tea for colds, pills and handkerchiefs on table on bright background

We’ve all seen it on the local and national news. This year’s flu season is hitting hard. With reports of children, mothers, and the elderly dying from the flu, it can be scary to think about you and your family getting sick this winter. The recent news about the flu vaccine’s low effectiveness has come out, and with winter still in full swing, the risk of flu has not gone away. We here at Steamboat Emergency Center want to help you and your family be prepared for how to handle this year’s flu, so we can all stay healthy this season.

Why is the Flu so bad this year?

Flu infection rates are always high, but this year’s news reports make this year out to be worse than most. Many people who have received flu shots are still getting infected, and with added patient deaths, this year’s flu season feels like it is affecting more and more people every day.

While studies actually find that infection rates for the 2017-2018 flu season are almost the same as years past, the strain of flu this year is especially severe. According to the CDC’s report, the dominant strain of flu this year is H3N2. H3N2 is a strain of flu that is less common, which means that we all have less exposure to it, and our immune systems have a harder time fighting it.

H3N2 is also notorious for having complications and being hard to treat. With this particular kind of flu on the rise, patients and physicians alike are trying to battle an uncommon enemy.

But what about my vaccine?

Receiving the flu vaccine is always recommended. It is always one of the best ways to ensure you and your family stay flu-free. Unfortunately, vaccines are not always enough to guarantee a flu-less season. This year, the flu shot is less effective in preventing the flu from being contracted, as we mentioned in our introduction. Usually, scientists can predict the strain of influenza and grow their own vaccine for it in chicken eggs. But this year, because the strain is H3N2, the vaccine itself mutated while it was being made, so it has not been as effective against this particular strain of flu.

That doesn’t mean this year’s flu shot is a waste of your time, though. Many patients who have gotten the flu, despite having flu shots, are able to fight off their flu symptoms much easier than patients without a flu shot. The vaccine builds up your immune system and helps you to recover quicker and easier.

What should I do if I get the Flu?

While the first reaction for many people who are severely ill is to call the nearest hospital, that might not be the best option for your health care. Overcrowding in hospitals can become a new health hazard in and of itself because patients must sometimes wait hours before they are seen. When a severe case of H3N2 is being treated, hours can make a real difference. Luckily, if your hospital ER is too crowded, you have a different choice in your healthcare. Steamboat Emergency Center is a fully equipped, independent emergency facility with the resources to help treat patients with this year’s flu.

We always encourage our patients to always seek medical attention if you or your family members are exhibiting signs of the flu. This year’s flu strain is unique, and even if you’ve had the flu before, you might not have encountered H3N2 before. Consult with a physician to find out what treatment will help you recover faster.

Nutex Health, Inc. supports you and your family’s health. Come visit Steamboat Emergency Center or any one of our concierge-level freestanding facilities for the emergency care you deserve, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.