Nearly Half of All Hospitalized With Flu Are Obese

Flu Means Nearly Half of All Hospitalized With It Are Obese

It is being reported that almost half of the adults who have the flu and have been hospitalized because of it so far this season are considered obese. This rate is much higher than what it has been in past flu seasons, stated the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is believed that nearly forty-seven percent of people 18+ who were in the hospital fighting off influenza as of Jan. 4 were very overweight. Joseph Bresee, who works for the CDC as a flu expert, has warned that this number might change over time but admits that it is high. He stated that he believes the United States is experiencing the same type of pattern which was noticed back in 2009. The amount of obese patients in the hospital this flu season is definitely a high number, stated Zack Moore, who is a medical epidemiologist that works with the North Carolina Public Health Division located in Raleigh. In most years, the percentage is usually between 20 percent and 30 percent. This flu season is also seeing more pregnant women hospitalized that what is normal. So far the average is about 22 percent of hospitalized patients being pregnant, where approximately 4.5 percent is the usual range. When looking at these two specific groups, medical researchers are not sure why they are so strongly at risk, but it is thought to be the flu could be connected to various immunological effects. Both pregnancy and obesity are documented to alter the immune system response and tend to produce respiratory restrictions. The most common problem that people with the flu are suffering from in the hospital is pneumonia. Some patients have to be moved to the intensive care unit and be placed on a ventilator just so they can breathe. In children, severe flu can possibly cause encephalitis if the infection goes to their brains. This can bring on seizures, convulsions and inflammation of the brain tissue. The flu has shown up in each of the 50 states this season and there is prevalent activity in 35 of those states, the CDC reported on Friday. That is up by 10 from the week before. However, even with the hospitalizations, this year’s flu season is actually typical of the flu. It usually peaks in either Jan. or Feb. Even so, it is not too late to get a flu shot if one has not yet been vaccinated. Immunity begins to build up very fast inside the body, although it is not at full effect until after about two weeks. The flu season is not even close to being over. It is believed it will last for quite a while. The average flu season usually goes on for at least 12 weeks every year, and this year it is still extremely early in the season. Most of the flu cases in America this year are the H1N1 flu strain. This is the strain which ended up causing a worldwide pandemic back during the 2009-2010 flu season. The CDC believes that there were between 8,865 and 18,300 flu related deaths due to H1N1 that happened for the duration of that outbreak in the United States. This year’s strain of flu appears to be hitting individuals who are between the ages of 18 and 64 the hardest. Over 60 percent of people who have been hospitalized for the flu have been in that age range, even though the individuals who were most likely to get sick were either 4 and under or 65 and older. 10 children are believed to have died from the flu so far this season, the CDC stated. States across the U.S. are only required to report when children die from the flu, so there are no official statistics for adults. However, because of North Carolina requiring doctors to send in reports when adults passed away from the flu back in 2009, the statistics in that state help to give a glimpse into what adult groups are being hit the hardest. While the H1N1 strain has constantly circulated the world over since 2009, this season is the first time that the U.S. has seen it as the major flu in the flu season since then. With this, it is being reported that almost half of the adults who are being placed in the hospital across the nation so far this season are considered obese. By Kimberly Ruble Sources: USA Today ABC News The Wall Street Journal

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