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2018 Flu Season: Why This Year’s Flu Is So Bad

October 2, 2019


Welcome to Dr. David Eifrig’s Health & Wealth
Bulletin. This is Weekly Update. Right now, we’re in the midst of one of the
worst flu seasons on record. In fact, about 31.5 cases out of every 100,000
hospitalizations are because of the flu. That’s one of the highest numbers that we’ve
seen. Unfortunately, we still have about 11 to 13
weeks left, meaning that this flu season can get even worse. Already, we have 30 children who have died
of the flu in the U.S. and the number of adults is still untold. We won’t really know until the end of flu
season. Now the reason the flu is so dangerous is
because of how quickly it mutates. So the flu virus comes in one of three types. There’s type A, type B, and type C. Type A
is the most dangerous – that’s the one that’s responsible for so many epidemics like we’re
seeing right now. So that’s the kind we’re going to focus on
today. Now the flu virus gets its name from two proteins
on the outer shell of its envelope. There’s the H protein and the N protein. The H protein, hemagglutinin, comes in 18
different types. The N protein, neuraminidase, comes in 11
different types. Now these two proteins are important because
they both help determine how infectious the flu is and how quickly it can spread once
it’s inside your body. The combinations of these two are why we get
different strains like H1N1 or H3N2, which is what we’re seeing right now. Now H3N2 is one of the most dangerous types
out there because of how quickly it spreads and how many complications it can bring. Now this might also be why we’re seeing such
low effective rates for the vaccine. Here in the U.S. they’re estimating about
a 30% effectiveness, but in places like Australia, it’s only about 10% effective. Now, one thing to keep in mind is: don’t let
this dissuade you from really getting your flu shot every year. In fact, one study out of the Uniformed Services
University of the Health Sciences demonstrated that getting your flu shot actually lessens
the severity of your symptoms. They looked at a group of folks who had the
flu, about 72% of whom were vaccinated. Those who’d been vaccinated had a far lower
chance of having a fever, they had fewer upper respiratory problems, and overall their symptoms
were far less severe. This is very important because we want to
make sure we get as much protection as we can, even if we do get the flu. Another point to keep in mind here is that
about 80 to 85% of all children every year who die from the flu were unvaccinated, so
it’s especially critical to get your flu shot if you’re a child, if you’re an adult over
65, or if you’re someone with a compromised immune system because you certainly need that
help fighting off the flu. So if you’re having symptoms of the flu, it’s
important to know if you have the flu or simply another cold. Remember, the cold is also a virus, so it’s
very similar in the way it presents. In fact, both colds and flu give you a cough,
sore throat, runny nose, body aches, headaches, fatigue, sometimes even fever. But it’s important to remember that colds
usually come with a stuffy and a runny nose and they come over a period of time – you
can feel yourself getting sick. With the flu, the key is a very rapid onset
of symptoms. If this is the case for you, you certainly
want to go to your doctor and talk to them, especially if you’re in one of these immune
compromised groups. If that’s the case, your doctor may recommend
antiviral medications. These are special medicines designed to fight
the flu but they’re only really effective if given within the first 48 hours. That’s why keeping an eye on your symptoms
and getting help immediately is really important. That’s it for now. Keep your questions and comments coming to
our feedback line. Don’t forget to like, share, and subscribe,
and we’ll see you next week.

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