BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) - Arming yourself against the flu can make a world of difference in the battle of the bug. Health care facilities are very busy as the virus spreads.
If you've been to an emergency room lately, you probably had to wait longer than usual to be seen - and that's largely because of influenza. Dr. Michael Manka is Chief of Emergency Services at Erie County Medical Center. He's seen that here, as in the rest of the country, the flu season hit early.
"We've really seen an intense number of cases of flu-like illness over the past month. I think that this influenza seems to be hitting a lot more patients than what we typically see this time of the year, and we're seeing a lot of patients with moderately severe illness," Dr. Manka said.
The vast majority of people who have influenza don't need hospital care.
Dr. Manka noted, "Most patients are staying home and drinking fluids and taking Tylenol and riding it out, but we're seeing patients who feel they need to be evaluated in the hospital, particularly those with other medical conditions like asthma or emphysema. Those patients need to be aware of their symptoms getting worse. If they start to feel short of breath - if they feel winded, out of breath, even just at rest, they should really be seen by their doctor or even in the emergency department."
Vaccination is the best way to protect yourself. It only takes two weeks to become effective, so there's still time to get a shot for this flu season. Sometimes people complain that they got vaccinated, but still got flu.
"Yeah, we hear that a lot, and that's because there's other viruses causing the same symptoms, so even though they come in with flu-like illness it may be another respiratory virus or an intestinal virus that's causing them to have fever and similar symptoms," Dr. Manka said.
You can't avoid all viruses, but the flu vaccine works against influenza.
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