The 2018 Flu Epidemic: What You Need To Know

Flu season is upon us. And if you're listening to the news, you're likely to be, well, freaking out. The 2018 flu season is ramping up to be one of the worst yet, with half of the nation's states reporting especially high flu activity. Why is the 2018 flu epidemic making headlines for its intensity? For one, it began earlier than in past years, extending the flu season past the standard timeline. Another factor: this year's dominant strain is known for making people sicker than past viruses. What can you do to avoid this rampant and potentially dangerous flu virus? The first step is getting a flu vaccination. While the flu season peaks from December through March, experts predict we won't be out of the woods until May. (Don't know where to get your flu shot? Check out the CDC's Vaccine Finder for flu vaccine providers in your local area). 

What else do we know about the 2018 flu, its symptoms, how to avoid it, and what to do if you get sick? Read on....

What do we know about the 2018 flu virus?

  • The flu virus is widespread in 46 states, with the first significant numbers reported in December of 2017.

  • The dominate strain of 2018 appears to be the H3N2, which can make people sicker than other strains.

  • This flu strain is particularly hazardous to seniors over 65 and young children.

  • Hospitalization from the 2018 virus is on the rise, with overwhelming numbers of patient visits reported.

What can you do to prevent contracting and spreading the flu?

  • Wash your hands often, and keep hand sanitizer nearby.

  • Avoid contact with those who are experiencing flu symptoms.

  • Get a flu shot. Even if you do get sick, the symptoms are likely to be less severe for those who receive the vaccine (experts recommend that everyone over the age of 6 months get the flu vaccine). 

  • Always cover your nose and mouth when sneezing or coughing. Cover hands with tissue and dispose of used tissue right away.

  • Avoid touching your face, nose and mouth.

  • Keep nearby and often-used surfaces (keyboards, mouse, phone, counter tops) clean, wiping down regularly with a disinfectant.

What are symptoms of the flu?

  • Fever

  • Body aches

  • Coughing

  • Congestion

What should you do if you catch the flu?

  • Rest and hydrate - don't try and "push through it" by maintaining normal levels of activity.

  • Stay home and avoid public places to prevent spreading the flu.

  • Monitor your symptoms; if symptoms continue for longer than three days, seek professional medical help.

  • If you have a chronic medical condition, seek care from a doctor right away.

Remember: the flu can leave you weak and depleted. If you're too sick to visit a doctor, telemedicine connects you with board-certified medical help without leaving home. Hippo Health's local doctor network allows you to get a diagnosis, prescription and more, from your smartphone or desktop. Sign up now to talk to a doctor (your first visit is free!); or, to learn more, click below. 



Kevin McGarvey