girl with cold, this year's flu, coming flu season, flu worse, avoid the flu

This year, the flu season may be shaping up to be worse than usual. In California, health officials estimate that this may be the most severe season in a decade. What could make the flu worse?

Which Flu Is It?

According to the CDC, the most common influenza virus confirmed in tests was influenza A type H3. This could include the strain H3N2, which was the main strain in Australia’s recent influenza epidemic.

Most states are reporting significant rates of influenza infections. Emergency rooms are overflowing with patients and many hospitals are restricting visitors to try to control the spread of the disease.

Another Complication Making the Flu Worse Right Now:

Adding to the challenge is the shortage of intravenous bags. Many of these were manufactured in Puerto Rico, which is still suffering from the aftereffects of Hurricane Maria. Without IV bags, doctors have difficulty treating dehydrated patients and delivering intravenous medications.

What Should You Do?

Public health officials are encouraging people to get vaccinated, though the flu shot is not expected to be very effective this year. The oral medicine, oseltamivir (Tamiflu), may shorten the duration and severity of the illness, but supplies of this antiviral medicine appear to be running low. Avoiding people who are sick when possible and washing hands frequently are cornerstones of public health advice to stay healthy during flu season. You can learn more from our Guide to Colds, Coughs and the Flu.

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  1. frank

    It seems as though someone should be a little brighter than to put all their eggs in one basket. Why put the responsibility on Puerto Rico when you know they are subject to large storms. Now you’ve done it. Should have spread that manufacturing responsibility around more states. I’d say poor planning.

  2. Cheryl

    Regarding the shortage of IV fluids that has finally been on the news recently; I cannot believe this is not getting more coverage in the press. There has been a severe shortage of many IV fluids and medications for several months since the devastation in Puerto Rico. I personally experienced the shortage when I was in the hospital 5 different times between the end of October and the end of December for cancer treatments in a Harvard teaching hospital in Boston. How could anyone think that having the production of lifesaving medications was a good idea on an island,in the middle of the ocean? This story should be getting more coverage.

  3. Peggy
    San Diego

    Regarding the influenza: vitamin D greatly reduces the risk of influenza type A; the flu vaccines are trying to help against type B (as well as type A). The majority of the flu strains are type A, but the more severe symptoms are usually type B. If you come down with headache, aching, fevers and it is flu season, consider starting elderberry extract (ok over 6 months old). In one small study, this helped as much as Tamiflu if started within the 1st 12-24 hrs. Tamiflu can have side effects: be cautious!

  4. JUNEBUG14

    I paid 1 1/2 times more for my Levothyroxin because of the hurricane that devastated the island where my thyroid medicine is made (or WAS made). Poor people and poor us!

  5. Frank

    The performance of the CDC and of the national medical and pharmaceutical system regarding influenza vaccine has been plumb dismal for lo these many years. One concedes that the problem revolves about the limited time available to determine which bug was the culprit in the southern hemisphere starting six months ago and then to compound many tens of millions of doses. That said, there are managers in the engineering and business world who are capable, with the assistance of MD subject matter experts, of getting this done right.

  6. Janet
    Elk Grove, CA

    We cannot vaccinate our way through life! If we are not allowed to get sick, we cannot become immune. Kids must be allowed to get sick and grow into adults with immunity. If we don’t feed ourselves real food instead of junk, we will become sick and dead. Germs are not bad, viruses are not bad, sickness is not bad. Stop the incessant vaccinations.

    • Jeanne


  7. SJ

    The CDC should be encouraging people to wear a surgical face mask when they are out and about. They should be looking at herbs that have anti-viral effect and take herbs/vitamins that promote immune function. We can all do something for our safety.

    Limiting surgery drinks and foods would help also. Everyone should be taking a proactive approach. These are all things our grandmothers taught us. Why is it that so few remember any of these?

    • Jeanne
      Longwood Florida


    • Sue

      Limiting SUGARY drinks, right? I struggled with your comment for a bit because I didn’t know there were special drinks for persons having surgery, like removal of the appendix.

  8. Marlene

    First of all I am 67 and have had the flu shot. At the end of December I had a cold which was settled in my sinuses. Over New Year’s Weekend I had chills but my temperature was only 98.8 and 99.1 respectively on Friday and Saturday night. I rested a lot that weekend. I thought the cold was getting better but then it began to move down to my chest and I was still blowing my nose a lot. . Mild Laryngitis set in and then this heavy congested cough. Since last week around Jan 3. I wake up with a heavy congested cough. Sounds like a smoker’s cough only I do not smoke and live alone. I have to cough a lot in the morning which seems to clear up some of the congestion. During the day I still cough but not as heavy as in the morning hours. I do not hear wheezing but have never had a cough like this from a cold and have it linger so long. I have spoken to or heard others speak about this type of symptoms. I don’t understand what is going on.

  9. Penelope

    And add to the problems with medical supplies from Puerto Rico, the new tax bill treats these to the same tariff’s as foreign companies! Just the excuse for big Pharma to move to India and lose American jobs and oversight!

    • mary

      Flu, I have 17 friends or associates who have or had the flu this season. Everyone of them had the flu shot, but they all said the same thing that it was the wrong flu shot. I answered so why did you get the flu? They could not put 1 and 1 together.
      The other thing I discovered that the flu shot is being given at our senior center, my thought is this a good thing because I do think the shot “SHEADS” I am not sure how many days but I assume 3 to 4 days if this is true than how many other people in the room are being exposed?

  10. Helen

    It also helps if people who are sick stay home, away from others, if at all possible. One of my pet peeves is when someone obviously very sick deliberately shows up at parties, work, etc. with seemingly little concern for others’ health. However, one thing that would also help that in a job situation is more sick leave pay. Some people feel they have little choice and can’t afford to miss work. Still, though, EWWW….no one else wants to catch the flu!

  11. Patricia
    Ajax, Canada

    I find that using a silver pulsar at the first sign of a throat tickle and gargling with molecular silver wards off the flu and cold. The experts even agree the vaccine is not that effective; so why subject your body to more toxins?

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