Doctors: Brace yourselves for Round 2 of flu season

January 11, 2013 9:21:21 AM PST
The flu has been picking off Houstonians for weeks and now the flu epidemic is even worse. Doctors say this is Houston's worst flu season in years. Emergency rooms are packed, and it's all because of an aggressive strain of Type A flu.

This has been Nancy Villarreal's life for two past weeks:

"I've never felt like this before," she said. "Awful, absolutely awful. I can't breathe, my body aches and I don't know, coughing, non-stop coughing."

Now she may be headed to the hospital.

"I've seen reports on TV that this is the worst flu season ever," Villarreal said. "It has to be, because if anyone else is experiencing this then I feel for them because it's awful."

"For the last few weeks we've been busier than we've been in a long time," said Dr. Jeff Kalina, an emergency physician at Methodist Hospital.

Methodist Hospital's ER, like others in Houston, is treating an additional 20 to 50 patients a day with the flu. Some emergency centers are treating double the usual patients.

If you're like most people, you'll probably end up toughing it out at home. But if you think you have the flu, you still need to go to the doctor within the first 48 hours so that you can get medicines like Tamiflu, which can shorten the flu and make it bearable.

And if you've missed the flu bug so far, don't get overly confident. There's a Round 2 coming up.

"Influenza A season is starting to come to a close over the next few weeks. Influenza B is going to start showing up," Dr. Kalina said.

"So you could have flu twice?" we asked him

"You could potentially get flu twice," he replied.

That's why you should get the vaccine, Dr. Kalina said.

"I did not get the flu shot and I wish I would have. I don't normally get it. I've gotten it a few times, and I really regret not getting it because this is no fun," Villarreal said.

If you get the flu and try to tough it out at home, watch for some warning signs that it's getting worse. Those include fast breathing, confusion, lethargy, no desire to drink or eat, and in children, a bluish skin color.

Take ABC13 with you!
Download our free apps for iPhone, iPad, Android and Blackberry devices