How to Know if You Have Flu Symptoms

How to Know if You Have Flu Symptoms

It’s another harsh flu season in North Texas and across the entire U.S., where packed ERs and urgent care centers are treating large numbers of sick patients for flu and influenza-like illness (ILI, or acute respiratory infection), RSV, strep and more. In a CNN article, a CDC spokesperson said it’s because of this year’s predominant strain — influenza A H3N2 — which affects younger and older populations more and so tends to be more severe.

At least 54 flu deaths have occurred in Dallas County alone this flu season, which began in October and typically peaks in February. However, because flu deaths in children under 18 are the only ones required to be reported, the numbers across all counties are probably much higher.

How to tell if you have the symptoms of flu, a cold or the stomach flu.

20171212 HCA Influenza Infographic

When to go to the ER with flu.

If you feel like you have flu-like symptoms, Manisha Gupta, MD, an emergency medicine physician at Medical City Denton, says it’s important to go to the ER if you’re part of a high-risk population, including:

  • People with a compromised immune system
  • Infants and young children
  • Elderly adults
  • People with other chronic health conditions such as COPD or heart disease

In an interview with the Denton Record-Chronicle, Hani Khair, MD, medical director of epidemiology and chief epidemiologist at Medical City Denton, said that public health officials are urging doctors and patients to treat suspected cases of flu as such even if a quick-test isn’t conclusive. Once a person comes down with the flu, the only way to take the edge off is with Tamiflu, a prescription medicine. The medicine isn’t for everyone (and most people don’t need it) but can help people with chronic medical conditions, Dr. Khair said.

Other reasons to visit an ER with flu-like symptoms, according to Dr. Khair, is if the sick person also displays:

Also, if the person appears to be getting better and suddenly relapses with a fever or other symptoms, they should come to the hospital because complications may have developed, Dr. Khair said.

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The possible complications of flu.

Another reason that flu deaths are hard to tally is because they are often attributed to flu’s complications, which can include:

  • Pneumonia
  • Inflammation of the
    • Heart (myocarditis)
    • Brain (encephalitis)
    • Muscle tissues (myositis, rhabdomyolysis)
  • Multi-organ failure
  • Sepsis
  • Worsening of existing conditions, such as asthma or chronic heart disease

Dr. Charles Phillips, MD, medical director of the emergency department at Medical City Arlington, explains how to recognize symptoms of pneumonia and who is most at risk for this dangerous illness.

The flu shot is still your best bet at prevention.

According to Nathan Holbrook, DO, an emergency medicine physician at Medical City Arlington, the flu shot is still the best preventive measure against getting ill. “The CDC estimates that the flu vaccine prevents 5 million cases of flu a year,” he said.

Flu shots are available at 30 CareNow Urgent Care locations across DFW.

Other prevention tips include washing hands and staying away from sick people, if possible.

If you are sick, Dr. Khair suggests you need to stay home, rest and try not to infect others. Watch the video below to learn the correct ways to cough and sneeze so you won’t spread your germs.

Arlene Jacobs, MD, an OB/GYN at Medical City Plano, said pregnant women can and should get a flu shot regardless of how far along they are.

“Flu shots are recommended in every trimester unless you have an allergy to the vaccine,” she said. “Flu in pregnancy can be very life-threatening and can lead to pneumonia, meningitis, brain abnormalities and respiratory problems. That’s why we recommend the flu shot for all pregnant patients.”

snot germs

If the flu has you under the weather, you’ll find expert emergency care at one of our many Medical City ER locations across North Texas. With average wait times posted online, if you do have an emergency, you can spend less time waiting and more time on the moments that matter most.

Find a fast Medical City ER near you or call our free, 24/7 Ask a Nurse hotline.

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