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What you should know about this year's flu season



LOS ÁNGELES (KABC) –

The flu season is underway with full force, and this year it has reached epidemic levels.

Dr. Ray Casciari with St. Joseph Hospital of Orange helped answer questions about this year's flu season.

Why this year is considered an "epidemic" and why is it hitting so hard?

The main strain this year is influenza A (H3N2), and it is hitting particularly hard this year, presumably because there is natural variation. In addition, the mortality rate is much higher than influenza B or influenza C.

In addition, the vaccine is not as good against influenza A (H3N2).

When should you go to the emergency room as you are opposed to urgent care or to your doctor?

If you can not control fluids, have had symptoms for more than seven days, feel confused and dizzy and have trouble getting out of bed, you should go to the emergency room.

Those who can navigate the house and can control their fever with Tylenol or Ibuprofen, the best thing to do is stay at home, wash their hands, keep everything around them clean, and improve.

There are the highest mortality incidents in children under 5 years and people over 65, so it is important that those affected within this age group seek care. It is also important to keep in mind that the flu can also be deadly for healthy people of those age groups.

There is news about some deficiencies of Tamiflu, an oral medication, in Southern California. What can you do if it is not available?

There's a lot of Tamiflu across the country and more should make their way back to Southern California. If the medication is not available to you, talk to your doctor about what the indications are because not everyone affected by the flu needs Tamiflu.

If you were vaccinated against the flu, does that protect you?

The flu vaccine is not 100 percent effective, but if you have the vaccine, you are likely to face a much milder flu course. Do not forget, it's never too late to get a flu shot!

Other things to know:

To avoid getting the flu, avoid crowds, do not touch your face, and wash your hands constantly.

This year's dominant flu strain takes 10 to 14 days to fully recover.

If taken within the first 48 hours of the onset of symptoms, antivirals such as Tamiflu can accelerate recovery in one to two days.

can also control its symptoms with fever reducers, cough expectorants and decongestants.

If you want to skip the waiting room, call because it is likely that your care can be handled over the phone.

RELATED: Pasadena doctor says aggressive flu can continue to peak by at least March

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