Health Tips Tuesday: experts discuss upcoming flu season

Published: Oct. 18, 2022 at 8:56 AM EDT|Updated: Oct. 18, 2022 at 9:02 AM EDT
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SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) - The CDC has reported 969 flu cases in the country and are urging people six months and older to get the flu shot.

Dr. Brian Sutton, medical director at Baystate Health Urgent Care, spoke to Western Mass News about what we can experct this flu season.

Should we prepare for a potentially severe flu season?

Sutton: “Well, I think we have to look at Australia in the southern hemisphere and we’re seeing that they had their most severe flu season in about a half a decade. We are on high alert in watching this flu map that the CDC and the Department of Public Health is putting out on a weekly basis, as we do every year, so we are going to gird up for the worst and encourage everyone to get vaccinated for influenza this year.”

How can you best protect yourself from the flu? It’s getting that shot, right?

Sutton: “The best protection we know right now for influenza is the vaccination and it’s not 100 percent fullproof protection. It’s not perfect by any means. We’ve missed the mark some years with the types of influenza that we’re targeting, but it’s the best protection that we have right now, in addition to the things that we’ve learned throughout the pandemic, which is masking if you’re sick and hand sanitation. If you don’t have to go out in public places, try to avoid it.”

You mentioned COVID and how we’ve been well-accustomed to dealing with that. Some of the symptoms though could be similar to the flu, right? How do you tell the two apart?

Sutton: “Yeah, there are a lot of crossover symptoms including fever, sore throat, cough, congestion, fatigue, body aches. These are all symptoms that we see with both COVID and influenza, so what we do is we have great testing compared to what we had three years ago where we can test for COVID and try to differentiate. Now, there are other viruses that are out there right now causing illness and we have to be on the alert for other viral illnesses, as well as complications from COVID, flu, other viruses, such as sinus infections, ear infections, pneumonia, etc.”

The flu can be deadly. When is it best to go see a doctor?

Sutton: “So, if you feel like you’re having flu symptoms where you are having difficulty breathing or you’re having, you’re having difficulty moving, you’re having difficulty with any sorts of high fever, chills, body aches, you can come down to one of our urgent cares or a pediatrician’s office, or your primary care office, hopefully, and get tested and get diagnosed.”