Study shows obese, overweight have tougher time fighting the flu


CLEVELAND (WJW)– Newly-released research from the University of Maryland found that obese people and those who are overweight have a tougher time battling the flu.

A couple years ago, researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill also found that the flu vaccine was not as effective on obese and overweight people.

Dr. Stacey Schultz-Cherry from St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital sayid the virus was actually able to spread deeper into their lungs.

St. Jude is now one of two hospitals selected by the National Institutes of Health to work on a better vaccine that would help overweight patients in particular.

“Vaccines that protect more people, protect longer and against more influenza viruses,” said Dr. Schultz-Cherry.

But the new vaccines could take up to seven years and flu season is already beginning across the country.

So regardless of weight, Dr. Roy Buchinsky, Director of Wellness at University Hospitals said everyone should get vaccinated for the flu.

“My feeling has always been even though it may not be perfect it’s certainly a partial response and partial antibodies is far better than no antibodies at all,” Dr. Buchinsky said.

He also said it’s important to pay attention to symptoms, which include fever, headache, body aches, cough, runny nose and nausea.
As soon as they start, a person should seek medical attention within 48 hours.

“The reason being, medications out there are most successful and beneficial when you get them within 48 hours,” said Dr. Buchinsky.

It’s unclear if this flu season will be bad, but last year’s was the longest in a decade, so Dr. Buchinsky said prevention is best.

He recommends eating well, drinking lots of fluids and getting plenty of rest and exercise, but most importantly washing your hands frequently and getting the flu shot.

“The best form of prevention is no doubt the flu vaccine,” said Dr. Buchinsky.

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