Protect yourself from respiratory illness, the flu this season

If you are sneezing or wheezing these days, you probably have what's going around. (WKRC)

CINCINNATI (WKRC) - If you are sneezing or wheezing these days, you probably have what's going around.

It's that time of year--family medicine specialists at St. Elizabeth Healthcare say several illnesses with similar symptoms are going around, including the flu.

Here's what you need to know to prevent them or feel better:

"We are starting to see a little bit of flu, but right now we are seeing a lot of upper respiratory illness," said Dr. Robert Tracy.

Those illnesses are part of the change of seasons, according to Dr. Tracy. But that also means these respiratory illnesses and the flu are getting mixed up with allergy symptoms.

So to get the right treatment, Dr. Tracy asks his patients to separate sudden symptoms. Allergies linger; respiratory illnesses tend come on rather quickly.

"Some people we just try to treat symptomatically with medications and not antibiotics; some folks we will try to give antibiotics, depending on their symptoms and duration of their symptoms," Dr. Tracy said.

As for Dr. Tracy's recommendations for fighting the flu going around:

"Everybody should probably get the flu shot during the flu season."

He points out that while you may be able to fight off the flu, you still should get a vaccine, even if you are healthy and well. The reason for that is that it might help protect someone that comes in contact with you.

And without the vaccine, you could get really sick and infect someone else who's not able to avoid serious complications from it.

The vaccine takes about two weeks to take effect, which is why it's ideal to get it right now. Most health care providers have it in-house, or you can get it at many area walk-in clinics.

It's too soon to know if it's a perfect match for the strains going around, but it does have protection against some of the strains missed in previous years, such as H1N1, that can make you really sick.

If you don't have health insurance, several area health departments also have flu vaccinations available at no charge.

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