Local Doctor Shares Health Tips Following Influenza Death

Carmela Karcher

Flu season has arrived.

Compared to the past few years, it came much earlier and is affecting more people.

And, there’s a reason.

“What we’re seeing now is what I like to refer to as catch up viruses,” Eisenhower Health Tennity Emergency Department Medical Director Euthym Kontaxis explained. “People that were isolated and were not exposed to anything, young people particularly, they’ll catch it this year or last year, because they’ve been isolated. Now they’re getting exposed and they’re getting a double dose you might say of a viral exposure…You might be getting three or four this year that you might not have gotten in 2021.”

This year, the flu season started to pick up in October before many people decided to get their flu shots.

But, it’s not too late.

“You can get your flu shot all the way up till February, March,” Dr. Kontaxis said. “If you are someone who might be at risk or are somebody who is able to take the flu shot, and most people are, you should get it.”

Riverside County reported its first influenza death Tuesday.

A Coachella Valley child under the age of 5 died after contracting influenza A and reportedly didn’t have any underlying health conditions.

This raised concerns for many about this flu season, but health experts say dying from the flu is extremely rare.

“Just remember that when you hear about these isolated incidences of death or some severity, they aren’t common and that’s why they’re news,” Dr. Kontaxis continued. “Don’t panic or get anxious and make it the basis for all your decision making.”

According to the Center for Disease Control, influenza doesn’t fall in the top ten leading causes of death in California which includes heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.

So as the flu season is well underway, one way to prepare is to be aware.

“Shaking, chills, sore throat, cold congestion, wheezing later on and high fever at the beginning. You feel miserable, Dr Kontaxis said. “Most people do just fine with it and it’s a reassuring thing that we need to tell people.”

Dr. Kontaxis went on to say Tylenol and Advil are the best over-the-counter medications to take for the flu.

He wanted to remind parents that any child under the age of 16 should not take Aspirin as it can result in a devastating illness called Reye’s syndrome.

Experts say the only time a visit to the emergency room would be necessary is if you have underlying health conditions and feel symptoms like shortness of breath, weakness and dehydration.

The best ways to avoid the flu is by taking care of yourself and washing your hands frequently.

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