While every flu season is different, this year has been exceedingly unusual as flu B, that doesn’t normal rear its head until the conclusion of the flu season, has made an early appearance this year, making this season a little more complicated than previous years. The most prevalent and dangerous flu types that occur during the typical flu season are types A and B. While type A will have numerous subtypes, type B is normally subcategorized into two divisions; Yamagata and Victoria. In a typical year, influenza B will follow the outbreak of influenza A, hitting the population in the latter part of the spring season. And while influenza is often less common than influenza A, it can be considered more severe in children, often resulting in hospitalization and sometimes even death.
Why Flu B is Going Undiagnosed?
Even though flu B can be even more devastating in children than other strains of the flu, the fact that it has shown up early this year is causing it to go longer before a proper diagnosis. People are less familiar with influenza B, and because the symptoms can be very similar to influenza A, many doctors fail to check for influenza B until the later spring months. Yet, this season influenza B and influenza A showed up at the same time, causing many strains of B to be misdiagnosed as A. When the proper diagnosis is not made in time, especially in children, there are higher instances of hospitalization and even death.
What Are the Symptoms of Flu B?
Since early detection is vital to the treatment of influenza B, it is critical that you be aware of the symptoms associated with it. By contacting your doctor at the onset of symptoms, beginning the proper course of treatment can prevent the virus from worsening. Some of the most common symptoms associated with influenza include:
- Fever with or without chills
- A sore throat
- Coughing and sneezing
- Fatigue and muscle aches
- Congestion or runny nose
- Abdominal pain
- Full body or limb weakness
- Nausea with or without vomiting
- A loss of appetite
For people with asthma, a sign of possible influenza B contraction could be increased respiratory infections or more severe asthma symptoms.
When flu B is not treated right away, it can lead to other, more serious conditions that can also serve as a sign that the virus is present and progressing.
- Respiratory failure, pneumonia, or bronchitis
- Kidney failure
- Heart inflammation, known as myocarditis
What Should You Know About Flu B?
To properly protect yourself, there are a few things that everyone should know. The first is that no matter what type of flu you are afflicted with, it should always be considered serious. While symptoms may seem mild at first, they can quickly turn into severe and life-threatening situations such as dehydration, inflammation, and respiratory issues. It is not only important for those dealing with the flu to seek early treatment, but also important to know how to prevent contracting it as well as spreading it to other people. Practice good hand washing habits and avoid people who are actively sick. If you or your family members are sick, keep them home to prevent them from spreading the virus to others at school or work.
Yet, even with the proper prevention measures above, your number one prevention is obtaining the flu vaccine for you are your family members. The flu vaccine may not treat all strains of the flu, but it can prevent and lessen the symptoms for the most prevalent strains. Studies by the CDC have also shown that flu vaccines also lower the risk of hospitalization and even death, especially for children. The vaccine is also safe for pregnant women, and when vaccinated, they pass a small amount of the vaccine to the unborn baby, providing them some amount of protection after birth.
With the flu B virus being more unpredictable this year, it is even more important to get vaccinated and take the proper precautions to reduce your risk of contracting the virus or possibly spreading it to more vulnerable people such as small children and the elderly.