READ: The agony of ER waits: Flu season is making them worse
Click this link to check out the wait times: https://hospitals.myajc.com/
3. This year, it's not just the usual older residents over 65 who are being hit particularly hard as flu season rages - people 50 and older are reeling from flu cases.
While the hospitalization rates are highest among adults 65 and older, health officials said adults ages 50 to 64 were the next most likely to be hospitalized. It’s not clear why this is happening. Officials say one possibility may be the mix of viruses circulating this season, particularly the H3N2, and the different levels of immunity people have developed to those viruses over time. Baby boomers also tend to have lower rates of flu vaccine than older adults.
4. This year's flu vaccine may not be the best match but experts still strongly recommend getting a flu shot. Vaccine effectiveness typically ranges from 40 to 60 percent in a good year. It's unclear just how effective this year's vaccine is. Information on how effective the vaccine is typically is not available until the flu season is over. Experts say even if the vaccine is not a perfect match, the vaccine can still help lessen the severity of the flu, and reduce the chance of experiencing severe complications from the flu. Getting a vaccine can also reduce the length of the flu if you do get sick.
5. It's not too late to get your flu shot. While getting a vaccine earlier in the season is better, there is still a lot of the season to go and vaccination now could still provide some benefit. It takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop in the body and provide protection against influenza virus infection
6. There are steps you can to take to avoid getting and spreading the flu. Common sense flu prevention techniques really make a difference. Frequently wash your hands with soap and warm water. (If water is not available, alcohol-based gels are the next best thing.) If you are sick, cover your coughs and sneezes with the inside of your elbow or a tissue that is then discarded. Also, don't go to work, and don't have your children go to school, when sick.
7. What to do if you get the flu. If you do get sick and think you may have the flu, contact your health care provider right away, particularly if you or family members are at high risk for serious flu complications — young children (under the age of 5), those over 65, pregnant women and those with chronic health conditions such as diabetes or asthma. Even young, healthy adults should call their doctor if symptoms don't improve or get worse after three to four days of illness. There are antivirals such as Tamiflu or Relenza that can help treat the flu, but the medication needs to be taken within 48 hours of the onset of symptoms to be effective.
8. When to seek immediate medical attention:
In many cases, simple home remedies includig drinking plenty of water and other clear liquids to prevent dehydration, and resting at home is all you need to recover from the flu. But there are times when the flu can lead to serious complications, and medical attention is needed. The following signs may indicate that your body may not be able to fight off the flu on its own:
Chest or stomach pain
Dizziness or lightheadedness
These red flags are the same for adults and children. However, with sick kids, seek emergency medical treatment when the following takes place:
Fatigue or irritability that does not respond to consoling
Confusion or headache that doesn’t go away
Back pain or weak legs or feet.
Severe muscle pain and/or red urine.
MORE: Children's Healthcare of Atlanta chart to help decide whether your child needs to see a doctor for the flu.