The dangers and misconceptions surrounding this year’s severe Flu season

Julia Kocsis, Assistant Editor

This year’s flu season has officially hit and it is more severe than in years past. Officials say this flu season has been unusually devastating because it has hit a vast majority of the continental United States at the same time. In addition to this, the exceptionally high level of viral intensity has continued for over a month.

This season’s predominant strain, H3N2, is known for causing the worst, deadliest flu outbreaks. There are two types: Influenza A and influenza B. It is possible to contract both types.

At least 63 children have died so far this flu season, including a 6-year-old girl from Cary, NC. Knowledge of this has already begun to cause a gradual panic in the general public.

In fact, according to federal officials, the number of people seeking doctors’ office and emergency room care is at its highest since the height of the 2009 swine flu pandemic. This is partially due to more extreme cases of the flu, but some of this phenomenon is caused by simple hysteria. People hear about awful cases of the flu via social media and the news and get paranoid that their mild cold is actually a deadly flu.

This causes debilitating overcrowding in emergency rooms and doctors offices. With so many people waiting to find out if they have the flu or not, medical clinics are not able to efficiently give everyone the treatment they may need. It also makes doctor’s jobs much more demanding and stressful.

The only reasons to see a doctor pertaining to the flu would be if a person is frail or elderly, a young child or infant, their temperature remains high after 4-5 days, symptoms worsen significantly, or they become short of breath and/or develop chest pain.

Flu vaccination can prevent contracting the flu, or at least reduce the severity of the illness. But sadly, flu vaccines are not perfect and they tend to offer lower protection against influenza A (H3N2) viruses. Regardless, they are highly recommended.

Common symptoms of the flu include a runny or blocked nose, sore throat, cough, high temperature, cold sweats, headache, aching joints and limbs and fatigue. Normally these last around a week. If you have the flu, you should stay at home, avoid contact with others, rest and consume plenty of liquids.

Antivirals, not antibiotics, are used to treat the flu. The most common flu antiviral is Tamiflu. Painkillers can also help alleviate some symptoms.

It is essential to take every precaution possible to avoid contracting the flu and spreading it to others. Be aware of your health and try not contribute to the counterproductive hysteria.