WEST DES MOINES, Iowa -- Doctors at the Iowa Clinic say the flu virus came early this year, and so far has been seen in mostly children. However, they say they usually see a big spike in adults over 50 with the flu in November.
“What makes it difficult is a lot of people, you know, they want to endure an illness and then all of a sudden it goes from something that’s mild to something that’s very serious in the matter of a day or two,” Dr. Jason Mohr at the Iowa Clinic’s Pulmonary Division said.
Influenza is a respiratory virus that can be damaging to the lungs especially for people who have chronic diseases like COPD. Jean Rommes was diagnosed with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease in 2000, she has been traveling the world as an advocate for the American Lung Association as an example of who the flu can affect. COPD causes her lungs to function at a 30% capacity. Rommes has to use oxygen to perform many everyday tasks like grocery shopping and exercising which is why she makes sure to get the flu shot every year.
“Part of the problem with becoming really ill if you have a condition like COPD is that your lung function is compromised to start with, but that disease will do additional damage and the problem is that you can’t recover from that additional damage,” Rommes said.
Doctors say the vaccine doesn’t make you immune to the influenza, but it makes you less susceptible to the more severe complications of the flu virus. They say it also stops the spread of the flu to people with chronic diseases or compromised immune systems.