Slow start for the flu -- and then there's whatever the other thing is

google flu trends albany 2011-11-20

The results for Albany from Google Flu Trends' experimental cities model. The dark blue is this year, the light blue lines are previous years.

We've been noticing what seems like a lot of coughing and sickness going around recently, so we had a look at Google Flu Trends to get a sense of how this year's flu season is shaping up.

And the answer so far: it's been slow (here's New York State's graph, which based on a model that's been tested against previous years). The state Department of Health's official reports, which lag about a week, also are reporting a slow start.

The takeaway here: there's still time to get a flu shot. And the sooner the better, since it takes your body some time to build resistance based on the vaccine. Compared to some of the seasons in the past decade that were marked by shortages and crushes at doctors offices, flu shots have become almost ridiculously easy to get. Most of the major pharmacies are now offering them.

Flu experts will tell you there's no such thing as a "typical" flu season -- the pattern of these things is just something we don't really have a good handle on. So just because things have started out slowly doesn't really mean much. Things could change quickly. Or not.

That other sickness
While the flu doesn't appear to really be kicking yet this year, something else does seem to be going around (anecdotally). We've noticed a handful of people who've come down with a cough that just won't quit. Mrs. Greg finally broke down and went to the doctor recently after about three weeks of it, a few better days, and then a relapse. The doctor told her he's been seeing a bunch of people with the same pattern: cold and cough for weeks, better for a few days, then a relapse before getting better again.

Just a reminder that the microbes own this world -- we're just living here.

graph: Google Flu Trends

Comments

I have that, my doctor calls it constricted airway disease. I get a simple cold and my cough sounds like I'm dying for weeks on end. I believe it's actually just a form of asthma though, an inhaler does the trick and I'm cured until the next cold.

Pertussis is also going around, actually!

I had something similar last spring. It was awful. I got some rest and it went away.

microbes are why I use a saline sinus rinse twice a day...and cringe and give dirty looks every time i see/hear someone sneeze/cough without using their elbow to catch the fall out.

Yep, I've had that cold/cough for over a month now. The first week is the worst but it lingers. Still coughing up some stuff in the morning, rest and lots of fluids helps (it probably doesn't help when lots of those fluids contain alcohol, I guess). I'll have to try the sinus rings colleen suggests...

a cough that just won't quit

Me and my spouse had "The Cough" in October, all month long.

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