Monday, February 26, 2018

Flu Season May Have Peaked

So this article was in my inbox this morning from AMA Rounds (American Medical Association) and caught my eye...
CDC: flu season may have reached peak
ABC World News Tonight (2/23, story 9, 0:25, Muir) reported the flu season has led to “a disturbing number” of child deaths – 13 more have died, bringing the national season total to 97 – as infections remain at high levels in 39 states. However, “visits to doctors and” emergency departments “did tick down” according to recent reports.
        NBC Nightly News (2/23, story 6, 1:40, Holt) reported data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggest the “season may have finally peaked.” Medical correspondent John Torres, MD, explained the CDC says “doctor visits and hospitalizations for flu are down,” a sign “that the worst is over.”
        USA Today (2/23, O'Donnell) reported CDC spokeswoman Kristin Nordlund said the new data are “encouraging,” considering the decline in visits to physicians and child deaths, down from 22 the week prior. She added, “It looks like we may have reached the peak of flu season,” but added that “it looks like we still have many more weeks of flu season to go.”
        CDC relies on network of surveillance methods to track flu The Wall Street Journal (2/23, McGinty, Subscription Publication) reported on the CDC’s flu surveillance data collection process, saying the agency relies on a network of hospitals, labs, and outpatient facilities to track the virus. This surveillance tends to capture only a portion of flu cases, and includes categories such as outpatient surveillance, hospitalizations, and mortality. Lynnette Brammer, head of domestic influenza surveillance for the CDC, discussed the agency’s use of surveillance and how effective these methods are. 

Great!  It sure has been unlike other winters from not just the number of patients coming in but also how long the illness lingers and the severity of the symptoms.  For example, I treated many folks who normally never needed inhalers who were now wheezing and needing neb treatments.

Since we are not totally out of the woods yet, please continue to wash your hands and practice good hygiene.  Easier said than done for little ones who love to put everything and anything in their mouths... but grownups do it, too.

Also, do not underestimate the importance of a good night's sleep and stress reduction.  The minute your sleep is disrupted or you are stressed... your immune system is lowered and that is when you may find yourself sick.

Some practical advice when you find yourself starting to get sick. Your throat usually starts to hurt and you get that "malaise" feeling.

  • take it easy and REST. 
  • drink LOTS of fluids (water... not just caffeinated beverages which dehydrates you... so coffee but also soda or tea has caffeine.  alcohol dehydrates you too!)
  • make sure you are eating nutritious meals... don't skip meals.  chicken broth if you are losing your appetite. stay hydrated and think about how to make the most of what you are taking in especially if you don't feel like eating
  • probiotics and vitamins if you don't think you are covering all your basics with your diet
  • do not give up exercising completely if you normally exercise... but maybe cut down on intensity based on how you are feeling. the better in shape you are the better chance you have of fighting it off quicker...
  • if needed can take Tylenol or Motrin for fever and aches and over the counter cough medicine to help relieve coughing so you can get rest
  • call your doctor if you feel you are not improving.. or if you improve then get worse again
And I wrote about the flu vaccine in previous posts.... but given our recent Superbowl Eagles win... (Go Eagles!)'s my analogy I've been using with my patients...
  • You are the Eagles team (or whatever team of your choice)...
  • The flu virus is the other team...
  • Getting the vaccine is like getting a sneak peak at the other team's plays...
  • You may not know exactly which one they will do when... but you will have more of an advantage than another team who did not see the plays
  • So... even if you do get sick after getting the flu shot... imagine how sick you'd be if you didn't get the flu shot...
That is why I always get the flu shot (to protect not just myself but my older and younger patients as well as my family)... and I try to get all my family members to get the shot.

This flu season is going down as the worse season since 2009 when Swine Flu was around. I did get the Swine Flu in 2009 and I was pregnant.  That year, we did not have the vaccine in time and I got exposed in August and was sick until November. I've never been so sick in my life before! Flu can be very serious... so glad this flu season is almost over...