Doctors offer tips on how to survive flu season - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

Doctors offer tips on how to survive flu season

Doctors are seeing increased strep throat, stomach virus and flu cases.(Source: Katrina Helmer). Doctors are seeing increased strep throat, stomach virus and flu cases.(Source: Katrina Helmer).
Experts reveal why the flu shot may not have been as effective and what researchers are doing to prepare for next year’s flu season. (Source: Katrina Helmer). Experts reveal why the flu shot may not have been as effective and what researchers are doing to prepare for next year’s flu season. (Source: Katrina Helmer).
Tune into WMBF News to find out what symptoms to look out for, how to treat them and how to prevent germs from spreading. (Source: Katrina Helmer). Tune into WMBF News to find out what symptoms to look out for, how to treat them and how to prevent germs from spreading. (Source: Katrina Helmer).

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - Doctors are seeing increased strep throat, stomach virus and flu cases.

Strep is extremely contagious, and it's not something to push off unless you're willing to infect others. Since Christmas, doctors across the Grand Strand have been seeing more and more strep cases. Doctors say this is the typical time after the holidays when people tend to pass around germs. We're all back and settled from our holiday trips and we've brought whatever germs we picked up back into our work or school environments.

Especially in the past week, strep cases are up at Beach Urgent Care. With strep, you need to be on the lookout for throat pain and little white patches on your tonsils. Sometimes you'll have a cough and it will hurt or irritate your throat to swallow. You could also have a low-grade fever and a headache. And it's very contagious in its beginning stages.

Doctors say the best advice is as soon as you think you feel sick, to keep away from people and go to the doctor to get a strep culture done. Then, if it is strep, your doctor can prescribe antibiotics and you can be on the road to recovery. On top of the antibiotics, you need plenty of fluids and plenty of rest.

"A lot of times, you know, you think of it more as a kids' disease. But not necessarily. It's quite prevalent in people of all ages," says Dr. Ronald Reynolds with Beach Urgent Care.

If you indeed have strep, you should stay away from work or school for the next two days, because that's when it's most contagious. Dr. Reynolds says you should also keep a comfortable speaking distance away from people. The closer you are, the easier it is for those germs to spread.

Dr. Reynolds is also seeing more patients come down with gastroenteritis. It's a nasty stomach virus commonly known as the "stomach flu", but not to be confused with the flu. Symptoms include: nausea, vomiting, stomach aches, diarrhea, low-grade fever, and feeling run down. If it is gastroenteritis, it should work itself out of your system in a few days. But if your symptoms aren't getting better in two or three days, there's a chance it could be bacterial. If that is the case, you'll need to see a doctor.

Some of these symptoms for gastroenteritis are also considered traditional flu symptoms. Doctors in the Grand Strand say they are seeing a surge in flu cases in just the last week. And with this round of cases, patients tend to be more uncomfortable and have more severe symptoms.

"A lot of people, for some reason, tend to think you flu is more in November and December. But actually, the flu is really more a disease you tend to see in large numbers in January and February. So we're still in the midst of flu season," says Dr. Reynolds.

For the flu, doctors can prescribe Tamiflu to help with any symptoms. Grand Strand Medical center confirmed 74 cases at the hospital in the first three weeks of January. Horry County still has one of the highest flu rates in the state of South Carolina.

The current flu shot is only 34 percent effective at battling the flu this season, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Health researchers along with CDC and FDA officials are making the decision in February on what viruses to target in next year's flu vaccine.?

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