Cold and flu season striking early this year

Many more people are coughing and sniffling earlier this year.
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If you're feeling hot, have a sick child, or a co-worker who can't stop coughing, here's why: "It" is going around early this year.

The Centers for Disease Control, says the flu season hit sooner than usual. Along with the flu, Eyewitness News found a couple of other "its" making the rounds and making people miserable.

On a beautiful day in Indianapolis, lots of people are feeling ugly. Laura Boyer's husband had "it."

"He just kept hacking away and coughing things up," she said.

Our Channel 13 receptionist just got "it."

"It hit me hard on the way home from work yesterday," said Susan Bowling, trying not to cough. "It does hurt, it is the chest that's hurting and burning."

So what is "it"?

"This year, unfortunately, a lot of things are going around at the same time," explained Dr. Steve Samuels.

Samuels' Greenwood practice is seeing more patients with bronchitis. The high fever, deep cough, mucus, and shortness of breath can be serious for people with pre-existing illnesses.

"Diabetes, underlying lung disease, asthma, COPD, they are young or they are old definitely seek attention quick and early on this," he said.

"It" also could be the flu. Doctors say it's arriving earlier this winter. Although the symptoms, high fever, muscle and joint aches, and dry cough, are no different from other years, a couple of things are working against us this flu season. There's the mild weather, increased travel and a new strain of flu that doctors say is a little more difficult to tough out on your own.

"It will not be the flu we've been exposed to in the last couple of years, so I think people have less immunity to it. It will probably be a more severe flu than we've seen in the last few seasons," warned Dr Samuels.

So listen to your doctor, or someone smarter - your spouse.

"I told him to go to the doctor," said Boyer. "I told him to get a flu shot, which he has not done."

But there's still time to get a shot and possibly stay healthy. But that flu shot is only good for the flu, not bronchitis, which could last up to three weeks. Doctors are also seeing more strep throat.

They are prescribing Tamiflu, antibiotics, over the counter medications, and lots of fluids and rest at home. That's a tough pill to swallow for workers who have already used up their sick time or don't want to give up any of their Christmas vacation days.