Flu Season

Bianca Pate, Assistant Editor in Chief, Online Editor, Copy Editor

Are you coughing? Do you have chills? Are you just feeling overall “not well”? There is a chance you might have the flu. According to NBC News, “It’s killed at least 37 children and thousands of adults, and this is either the worse season since 2015, or 2009, depending on how you measure it.” Also, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “In a typical year, the flu kills about 36,000 people in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.” In Pennsylvania alone, more than 47,500 cases of flu have been reported.

Although the flu shot was only 10% effective this year, it is highly recommended that everyone over the age of six months should get a flu vaccine. Still, half of Americans did not receive a vaccine, many of whom have the misconception that the flu shot can give you the flu. Registered Nurse Julie Baloga from Excela Health Latrobe Area Hospital and give insight to help you understand what the flu is and how to prevent yourself from getting it.

Julie’s advice: Limit your contact with people who have the flu. If you truly need to visit a person infected by the flu, wear a mask and wash your hands frequently. Also, if you notice someone who is coughing or overall does not look well, STAY AWAY! If you personally become infected, stay home to prevent others from becoming infected as well.


Typical questions asked about the flu:

Q: What is the flu?

A: There are two strains of the flu that are able to be detected called Influenza A and Influenza B. Sometimes, people will become infected with a strain that isn’t identifiable. It is spread by airborne respiratory droplets meaning it can be spread by coughing, sneezing, and even talking. When infected people cough, sneeze, or talk, droplets can land in the mouths or noses or people who are nearby and can even potentially be inhaled into the lungs.


Q: What is the difference between the “flu” and Gastroenteritis (stomach flu)?

A: Gastroenteritis is not the same as the respiratory flu. Symptoms of Gastroenteritis typically only last 24 hours, therefore giving it the commonly known name of “the 24 hour bug”. Gastroenteritis happens when your stomach and intestines become inflamed and can be caused by viruses, bacteria, and parasites. On the other hand, the flu is caused by the influenza virus and affects the respiratory system. The flu typically resolves on its own, however, sometimes, complications occur resulting in Pneumonia.


Q: How long does the flu last?

A: According to Julie, the length and severity of the flu is different for each person. Many factors contribute such as age, lung problems, diabetes, heart problems, and fitness level.


Q: When should you make a trip to the ER/ set a doctor’s appointment?

A: Julie stated that your instincts are the best indicator of when you need to seek medical attention for the flu. You know your body better than anyone else. Typically, the flu resolves on its own, but you can never be too cautious when it comes to your health. It is better to see your doctor and nothing be wrong, than to go untreated for something that should have been taken care of. If you feel that something is wrong, chances are you are right.

A: Circumstances are slightly different for Gastroenteritis. If you have blood in vomit or poop, a fever that is over 102.2 degrees F, vomiting that lasts 48 hours, or a swollen tummy or pain in the lower right part of the belly, seek medical attention.


Q: How is the flu treated?

A: If admitted to the hospital (severe cases), Julie describes how common treatment for the flu includes: Tamiflu, respiratory treatments, and IV fluids.


Q: What does Tamiflu do?
A: Tamiflu is NOT a cure for the flu. It simply reduces the severity of the symptoms and shortens the recovery time.