If it seems like this year’s version of flu is particularly rough, it’s not just in your congested head.
The flu season is lasting longer than usual and bringing with it especially painful symptoms this year, according to Santa Clarita Valley health experts.
Of course,for anyone working in an office or a public place anywhere in L.A. County in the last few weeks, that might be already apparent.
However, health officials like emergency room physician Dr. Darrin Privett shared several insights on how to cut down on “severity and longevity” of the symptoms this season, and maybe cut down on the need for, as one company famously puts it, the “nighttime, sniffling, sneezing, aching, coughing, stuffy-head, fever, so you can rest medicine.”
The strains of virus, known in medical circles as influenza A and influenza B, are hitting communities across the country particularly hard, Privett said.
The Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital physician spoke with The Signal on camera this week to discuss a recent deluge of cases at the facility where he’s an emergency room doctor.
“This year, it seems like the season has been more late than previous,” he said. “And we are right now at the high incidents of having the flu right now, especially in the Santa Clarita Valley.”
The most important strategy that one can have with the flu is to try and control it, and the best method available is through vaccinations, Privett said.
For those who haven’t gotten that vaccine, yet, because it’s so late in the season, they might want to call their local physician, health care clinic, hospital or health care service provider before heading over to get vaccinated, because due to the high severity and prevalence of the flu occurring so much later in the season, many places have run out.
“There’s a huge increase with people testing positive for flu,” said Dr. Christian Raigosa, family physician in charge of Kaiser Permanente’s Santa Clarita office. The doctor added the virus is historically rampant around the first three months of the year.
The flu virus typically presents in the respiratory system and can give way to coughing, congestion, runny nose. More prominent symptoms include high fever, headaches, body aches, chills and pain.
“Flu has the potential to have a very serious impact on the patient as it increases your risk for pneumonia and can take control of your organs,” Raigosa said.
The physician said the group most vulnerable to getting the flu are the unvaccinated, the elderly population, patients with young children and newborns. Also at risk are people with comorbid conditions like diabetes, those with immune systems that don’t work as well and transplant patients.
Though vaccinations are not as effective compared to previous years, they do well in toning down the flu’s symptoms, Raigosa and Privett shared.
Privett also recommended getting a prescription for Tamiflu for someone battling symptoms in need of more than an over-the-counter cure. He said that medication can typically cut down on the effects of symptoms from about two weeks to about eight days.
Because the flu is typically spread through respiratory droplets, the doctors recommended practicing strict hand washing, covering your mouth when coughing and avoiding open spaces filled with other sick people.
“If you smoke, it’s a good time to stop smoking,” Raigosa said. “People show up to the work with the flu and that’s how it spreads.”
For those who haven’t had the flu this year, getting adequate sleep, ensuring ample hydration, exercising and eating a well-balanced diet can help stave off the virus.
The good news is that if someone does nothing, and doesn’t have any previously existing health risks or conditions, the illness will likely pass in eight to 10 days – but there are ways to even reduce that without treatment.
“The key is really about fever control,” Privett added, “Motrin and Tylenol, hydration and maintaining a well-balanced diet and to just sleep and get the rest that you need.