PHOENIX -- Flu is hitting the nation harder than it did at this time last year, but it could be peaking in some parts of the country.
Americans who haven't yet been vaccinated against the flu, should do so. Better late than never!
Flu vaccine makers were expected to supply the United States with about 135 million doses.
The current flu vaccine is 62 percent effective, which means that 38 percent of Americans who get vaccinated could still get the flu.
Patients with flu-like symptoms have flooded hospital emergency rooms in the Northeast. 47 states reported widespread flu activity.
Decrease in outpatient visits may suggest that flu is peaking or waning in some states.
Treating flu within 48 hours of symptoms is best. Prescription antiviral drugs may cut the time you're sick.
If you feel like you've been hit by a truck, it's probably the flu. Flu symptoms like sore throat, fever, headache, muscle aches and soreness, congestion, and cough tend to come on suddenly and are more intense than cold symptoms.
Colds, on the other hand, usually include a runny or stuffy nose. Flu symptoms usually improve over two to five days.
Swine flu has recently been in the news, but the pandemic officially ended in 2010. Current flu vaccines protect against swine and seasonal flu. Swine flu and the regular seasonal flu share many symptoms, like cough, sore throat, fever and body aches.
If you have the flu, you will probably fun a fever of 100-102 degrees or higher. Childrens' flu fevers tend to be higher, and children may be more likely to develop a fever with the common cold.
By taking a nasal or throat swab, your doctor can often tell if you have the flu virus, usually with 30 minutes or less. If you test positive for flu and your symptoms started within the last 48 hours, your doctor may suggest antiviral treatment to help you recover more quickly.
The flu can be brutal, but antiviral medications can make you feel better and shorten the time you are sick by one to two days - if they are started within two days of getting sick.
Over-the-counter medications can also lessen some flu symptoms like cough and congestion.
For a list of clinics where flu shots are available, click here.