AUSTINTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Thousands of people end up in the hospital each year because of the flu.

This is the time when the number of people getting sick starts increasing. Dr. David Crowe is a family physician in Austintown. He’s already seen a few cases of the flu come into the office this season and expects the number to grow over the winter.

Some years, the flu virus is more active than others. The virus is very contagious and spreads quickly.

“It does get passed around in groups of people, schools especially. Of course, this is a social part of the year coming up so there are a lot of parties and celebrations, so the flu tends to spread as the winter months go on,” Crowe said.

The flu season typically lasts through March.

Young kids and people over 65 years old are most susceptible to catching the virus. The first line of defense is the flu vaccine. The Centers for Disease Control predicts which strains of the flu will be most prevalent.

“The flu vaccine is designed around those strains of flu. This year, we have four strains that are contained in the flu vaccine to try to cover much as we can,” Crowe said.

The flu virus can be treated with drugs such as Tamiflu if you see a doctor within the first 48 hours of experiencing symptoms.

Last year in the U.S., over 100,000 people were hospitalized because of the flu.

The Centers for Disease Control has come up with “Take 3” Actions to Fight the Flu:

  1. Take time to get a flu vaccine
  2. Take everyday preventative actions to stop the spread of germs
  3. Take flu antiviral drugs if your doctor prescribes them