Verify: Should you go the ER if you have the flu?

VERIFY: Should you go to the ER if you have the flu?

The flu outbreak is widespread throughout Central Georgia and across the Bibb County. Some area hospitals are telling us that their emergency rooms are jammed with possible flu cases. We wanted to verify if that is what you should do.

Cough, congestion, and body aches are just some of the symptoms people experience with the flu.

“We're probably seeing double what we did a year ago from last January in our swabs,” Brandi Jones, Director of Infection Prevention at Coliseum Medical Centers said.

Houston Medical Centers have also treated more than double the number of flu cases they did this time last year. In just the first two weeks of 2018, they’ve already treated 659 confirmed flu cases across all of their facilities. 

“We are seeing a lot of Flu A strains this year,” Jones said. “Flu A tends to be worse than Flu B --more virulent and it causes more sickness.”

When those symptoms hit, some people's first reaction is to head to the ER, but is that what you need to do? 

“If you are normally healthy, if you’re not less than 2 or older than 65, and you think you have the flu you are fine to stay home,” Jones said. “Take your over-the-counter medications unless you start feeling worse.”

Jones says if you are a baby, elderly, or have other medical conditions, you need to see a doctor. That can be your primary care doctor, an urgent care doctor, or the ER as a last resort. If you do go to an ER, be ready to wait -- right now they are slammed with others. Major medical emergencies may take precedent. 

“Flu, when it becomes an issue, it's usually because you have a bacterial infection with it,” Jones said. “It usually presents as pneumonia, and so if you’re admitted to the hospital, it’s not just because you have flu, it’s because you have other complications with the flu.” 

You can check ER wait times at Coliseum Medical Centers online anytime on their website. Navicent and Houston Healthcare do not publish current wait times. 

 

Sources

Brandi Jones, Director of Infection Prevention at Coliseum Medical Centers

CDC Guidelines 

 

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