With an uptick in flu cases this winter, the Department of Emergency Medicine at Good Samaritan Hospital Medical Center is providing guidelines to help recognize the severity of flu symptoms.
“Good Samaritan Hospital is seeing a significant increase in patients who present with Influenza like illnesses compared to last season," said Department Chairman Daniel Murphy, MD. "Hospital staff has also been affected despite a high vaccination rate. The public should follow the CDC guidelines and seek out medical advice from their primary care providers for mild or moderate flu symptoms."
In adults, the signs of severe or worsening flu include rapid breathing, difficulty breathing, pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen, bluish skin color, dizziness or confusion, increasing fever or severe persistent vomiting. In children, the signs of severe or worsening illness include increased fever, rash, rapid or difficult breathing, bluish skin color, irritability, lack of responsiveness and not drinking enough fluids.
Though the illness is common and usually subsides within a week or two, some severe cases can be fatal--particularly in children and seniors.
So far this season, 20 flu-related deaths in children have been reported Centers for Disease Control. “These deaths underscore the fact that flu can be a serious, even life-threatening illness,” Murphy said.
In most cases, though, the illness will go away on its own.
“Most people recover from seasonal flu without needing medical treatment. In fact, most flu patients can best be cared for at home,” said Murphy. The hospital advises those who are sick to stay at home from work or school until their fever has disappeared for at least 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medicine.
However, individuals with underlying medical conditions that may result in more severe illness from the flu should call or visit their health care provider if they develop symptoms. These include pregnant women, children younger than five, persons 65 and older, and those of any age who have a medical condition such as diabetes, heart disease, or asthma.
Flu patients who become dehydrated require medical intervention,according to Good Sam. The hospital advises those who experience severe or worsening symptoms to call their doctor immediately or seek emergency care.
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