Early allergies coincide with flu season

March 17, 2012 5:37:40 AM PDT
The unseasonably warm weather has triggered high pollen counts, but it's also flu season so many people are confused about what's making them miserable.

Bronwyn Soell had been feeling serious aches and pains and was unable to keep food down. The unseasonably warm weather led her to think it was being triggered by high pollen counts. She was wrong.

"It started with a terrible headache, almost like a migraine around my forehead," Soell said. "But because I have allergies, I just thought it was a bad allergy attack."

A day later Soell's 12-year-old son William also came down with it, as did several of his classmates.

Experts say the flu is coming on strong in February and March, a time when it usually winds down. In fact doctors say you need to pay close attention to symptoms.

"If they have body aches, especially back pain, low back pain, children sometimes can complain of calf pain, as one of the typical early signs of influenza, then those are reasons to talk to the doctor," said Dr. Andrew Bonwit of Loyola University Medical Center.

While the flu threat typically begins in the fall, November and December, It frequently lasts through the spring, and some experts expect it to peak over the next week or two. But there is still plenty of time to try to protect yourself with a flu shot.

"We are in a traditional, historical influenza season," Dr. Bonwit said. "If people haven't had their vaccine so far during the season, it's a good idea to get it."

Bronwyn Soell skipped the flu shot this year, much to her regret.

"It was terrible," she said. "It was a stomach flu I hadn't had in years."

The flu is generally transmitted more easily in cooler temperatures with low humidity. Higher temperatures and humidity tend to make to more difficult for airborne transmission.

Doctors say it's still a good idea to wash your hands frequently.

And as the doctor said, there is definitely still time to get a flu shot.

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