People searching for relief from early, harsh flu season

News 12 at 6 o’clock / Friday, Nov. 16, 2012

AUGUSTA, Ga. -- That achy, feverish, "feel like you got hit by a truck" feeling is making its way around the CSRA, and it's not wasting any time.

Even people that were vaccinated are getting sick, leaving doctors frustrated and patients searching for relief.

“We've been a little surprised. It came real early in the season this year,” said Dr. Mark Newton, chairman of Department of Emergency Medicine at Doctors Hospital.

Dr. Newton says these flu cases are some of the earliest cases he's ever seen and the hospital has the numbers to back it up.

“We checked with the lab because we thought it had been a lot, but we only went back as far as Oct. 22, and there were already over 103 cases that have come through our emergency department,” Newton said.

The flu vaccine is created to protect against the three most common flu strains of the season, but Dr. Newton says even people with the vaccine are catching the nasty bug.

“First few times we realized that it's a little disappointing because we know that means there's another strain in addition to the three most common that's out there. It's going around work places, and health care's not exempt, even with flu vaccines,” he said.

Newton says unfortunately there's no way to avoid it. The key is to protect yourself and keep it from spreading unnecessarily.

Washing your hands is an easy way to prevent the spread of the virus.

If you have a cough, try covering your mouth with your sleeve instead of your hands, because if you cough into your hands, those germs will go from your fingers to your door handle.

Besides that, Dr. Newton says the shot is still the best way to go.

“The flu vaccine is still the number one way to diminish your likelihood of getting or having a severe case,” he said.

If you do happen to catch the flu, it's important to know when to go see a doctor so you can get a prescription.

“Especially when they start running a fever, they're having that strong, harsh hacking cough, that's when they know it's probably time to pay attention, maybe take a day or two off,” Dr. Newton said.

Dr. Newton says hydration is another key way to help your body fight off illness.

He says flu season can last all the way through May, and even though many people are just facing bad colds, if you've been exposed to someone who already has the flu, Newton says it's better to go ahead and get tested so you can start feeling better.

Click here for more information on vaccines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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