NORFOLK, Va. - According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, this flu season is now the longest in a decade and has crossed over into allergy season.
How can we distinguish the difference between flu and allergy symptoms?
"The flu and allergies can cause similar symptoms," said News 3 medical expert Dr. Ryan Light. "The flu usually starts with fevers, body aches, and cough. Allergies do not cause fever or body ache. The flu usually last between five to seven days, while allergies typically continue through the entire season."
Dr. Light said seasonal influenza viruses are detected year-round in the United States.
"The flu is most active during the fall and winter, however the exact timing and duration of flu seasons can vary," he explained. "Most of the time, flu activity peaks between December and February, although activity can last as late as May."
Dr. Light advises people to practice good health habits all year long and to get the flu shot, even if it is late in the season.
"Everyone is at risk of getting the flu," he stressed. "People with health issue such as asthma, COPD, heart disease, diabetes, a comprised immune system, or are over the age 65 or younger than 5 are at higher risk of complications from the flu and should get the vaccine as soon as possible."
Dr. Light said if you are experiencing flu-type symptoms, see your healthcare provider as early as possible. Testing can confirm the flu, and the anti-viral medications used to treat it work best when started within the first 48 hours.