A man sick with flu symptoms is lying in bed under blanket. Selective focus on the hot tea and medicine on the table.

Flu Symptoms in 2018 Seem worse? That’s Because They Are…

Flu Symptoms: What are They?

Feeling like you got run over by a bus? Fever, aches, and fatigue — they’re all tell-tale flu symptoms. If it makes you feel any better, you’re not alone. Flu is wreaking havoc in the US right now, and Austin and San Antonio, Texas have been hit particularly hard.  But it’s not just that so many people have the flu, it’s that the flu this year just seems worse.  People feel sicker. Flu symptoms seem to be lasting longer, and more people are winding up in the hospital.

The big bad Type A influenza known as H3N2 is the culprit.

It turns out that this year’s flu is worse.  The predominant type of flu we are seeing is a type A influenza known as H3N2.  Remember that “swine flu” a few years ago?  That one we referred to as H1N1.  See, flu viruses are known by these proteins on their surface – “H” and “N.” (Not to be confused with the Swedish hipster clothing company H&M!)  

Why is flu season 2018 so bad?

The H3N2 is a particularly nasty version of the flu for several reasons.

  • It’s really hard to make a vaccine against it. For some reason, this type of flu does not grow well in eggs. It’s weird, we know, but that is the way vaccine is made, so it is really hard to produce one that will protect us against this particular strain. The vaccine against H3N2 is usually only about 30% effective, which leaves a lot of folks who got the shot still susceptible to getting the flu.
  • Your body learned to fight flu from the first flu infection you ever had. This is a theory (called imprinting) that says that your first flu infection primed your immune system to fight that type of flu. But here’s the problem: H3N2 didn’t come on the scene until 1968, so this generation of seniors (i.e. anyone born earlier than 1955 or so) probably had a different flu strain their first time around. H3N2 is new to them, and could potentially make them very sick.
  • Between the two proteins, the H3 is the real bad guy.  The H3 protein mutates at a faster rate than its counterparts, so it’s really hard for your immune system to fight.  And for vaccines to protect against.

We don’t actually know all the reasons why this particular flu is so bad.  As Dr. Daniel Jernigan, head of the influenza division at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, puts it, “We just know, over the last several years, when we have an H3 season, it’s unfortunately causing worse disease.”

But sickness isn’t inevitable if you learn how to prevent the flu and keep the flu from spreading.

So the bottom line is that it’s gonna be a rough flu season. More illness, more hospitalizations, and unfortunately more deaths.  The toll is usually the worst on the elderly, and in outbreaks that break out in long-term healthcare facilities.  Most young, healthy kids and adults will fight off the flu easily.

You can do things to decrease your chances of getting the flu, or reduce the length of your flu symptoms. 

3 ways to prevent the flu:

  1. Get a flu shot.  Even though it’s effectiveness is not perfect, it’s better than no protection at all.
  2. Seek medical attention promptly if you have symptoms of the flu. Antiviral medications can be prescribed, but are most helpful when given early in the disease.
  3. If you get the flu, stay home!  Don’t be out and about, at work or school, infecting others.  Even if you get over the flu with no major problems, you could infect someone who is more susceptible to serious disease.

Remedy house call doctors provide urgent care services in Austin

If you’re worried that you might have the flu, or if you’re seeing symptoms of flu in kids or older folks that live in your home, we can easily come to your home and give you a flu test. Taking antiviral meds is the best way to decrease how long flu symptoms last, but you need to take it early for it to be effective. Schedule an appointment. Start feeling better sooner.

Learn more about the flu test and how it works here: .http://myremedy.com/theres-a-better-way-to-test-for-the-flu/