PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – It’s high season for respiratory viruses, and health officials say there’s a whole lot of misery going around.

“I woke up and I couldn’t talk – and it was really hard to breathe,” one person said.

“I had a sharp pain up in my rib cage – where every time I cough – it would like push up against my rib,” another said.

“Some kind of respiratory yuckiness that I’ve had for 6-weeks. So I’m going to the doctor tomorrow to hopefully finally clear it up,” another told KDKA’s Mary Robb Jackson.

Sound familiar? It does to doctors like West Penn Allegheny Health Systems Dr. Jennifer Preiss.

“I think we’re seeing probably the same amount right now – but I expect it to get worse,” Preiss said.

Rest, fluids, Vitamin C – and Zinc can help prevent initial viral infections from developing into nasty bacterial infections.

“If you can’t shake it in 7-to-10 days you’re going to end up with a bronchitis or sinusitis.”

Flu cases are also increasing in Allegheny County and elsewhere.

From late September to January 11th there have been 209 confirmed flu cases.

Of those, 93 cases were logged just last week.

Half of all the cases so far were hospitalized.

There’ve been 2-flu related deaths.

“When you get the flu you really feel like you’ve been run over.”

But there’s a key difference between flu and other upper respiratory illnesses.

“Generally the common cold does not have a fever, so the fever is really key.”

There are a few ways to lessen your chances of getting sick besides washing hands frequently.

Wipe down cell phones and keyboards with alcohol, and avoid sugary foods – sugar can help viruses and bacteria multiply.

It’s still not too late to get you flu shot this month, because cases of the flu are known to continue into the spring.

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