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FOX Medical Team

Health headlines: Flu hitting hard

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Remember the 2009 "Swine" Flu?  It's back! This year, the main strain of the seasonal flu making the rounds is the H1N1 strain, and it's been tough on young people.  

So far, 20 Georgians have died from influenza-related illnesses, including one child.

This week alone the CDC says 10 child flu deaths were reported, bringing the total number of pediatric flu deaths to 20.

The flu is hitting children and younger adults hard,  with many experiencing unusually severe symptoms.

Flu season typically peaks in Georgia in late January, but it can drag on until May, so it's not too late to get a flu shot.      

Another story in the news this week: a new FDA warning about a common ingredient in prescription pain medications.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is telling doctor to stop prescribing combination pain drugs like hydrocodone, oxycodone and codeine that contain more than 325-milligram of acetaminophen per dose.

The concern: people may be taking too high a dose, or combining the pills their doctor gives them - with drugstore medications that also contain acetaminophen, which in high doses can cause severe liver damage.

At Emory's Rollins School of Public Health, Dana Boyd Barr, Ph.D., says,  "You may also see some changes in how pharmacists label the medications, or the warnings when you pick it up.  And certainly people would be cognizant of not taking Tylenol in addition to this medication, or perhaps reducing their Tylenol intake."

Finally, it's been 50 years since the U.S. Surgeon General first warned Americans smoking can cause lung cancer. Since then, tobacco use in this country has dropped by 50 percent. But even with that drop, and all the warnings about the health dangers of tobacco use, almost 20 percent of Americans still smoke.

And, a new Surgeon General's report says tobacco remains the leading preventable cause of disease, and disability and death in this country.

The report claims that in the last 50 years, 20 million Americans have died prematurely because of smoking.

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