Living Well: When to seek medical treatment for the flu or common cold | CraigDailyPress.com

Living Well: When to seek medical treatment for the flu or common cold

It’s important to know when symptoms require medical attention

By Lauren Glendenning/Brought to you by Memorial Regional Health
To prevent spreading the flu, stay home from work or school while contagious, which is usually the first 3 to 4 days after the symptoms began. The CDC also recommends staying home for 24 hours after a fever has resolved.
Stock image
When to seek medical care for the fluPeople experiencing any mild to moderate flu symptoms, such as fever, chills, body aches, cough, congestion, sore throat, should seek care with MRH’s Rapid Care Clinic, open Monday through Saturday from 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. No appointment needed, just walk in. 2020 W. Victory Way in Craig. 970-826-8300People experiencing any severe symptoms, such as those listed below, should seek care at MRH’s Emergency Department, which is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.In children:
  •        Fast breathing or trouble breathing
  •        Bluish lips or face
  •        Ribs pulling in with each breath
  •        Chest pain
  •        Severe muscle pain (child refuses to walk)
  •        Dehydration (no urine for 8 hours, dry mouth, no tears when crying)
  •        Not alert or interacting when awake
  •        Seizures
  •        Fever above 104°F
  •        In children less than 12 weeks, any fever
  •        Fever or cough that improves but then return or worsen
  •        Worsening of chronic medical conditions (asthma or other chronic conditions)
In adults:
  •        Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  •        Persistent pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
  •        Persistent dizziness, confusion, inability to arouse
  •        Seizures
  •        Not urinating
  •        Severe muscle pain
  •        Severe weakness or unsteadiness
  •        Fever or cough that improves but then return or worsen
  •        Worsening of chronic medical conditions

Did you know flu season can last as late as May? It’s not too late to get a flu vaccine, which can help reduce the risk of flu illness by up to 60 percent, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

This flu season, patients around the region have presented flu symptoms with or without documented fever but with the sensation of feeling feverish and chills, said Allison Hamburger, Physician Assistant at Memorial Regional Health. Frequent symptoms this flu season also include headache, cough, sore throat, body aches, and fatigue. Often there is a lot of rhinitis (runny nose) or nasal congestion, and sometimes diarrhea and vomiting, she said.

Flu symptoms should be evaluated by medical providers to determine the best treatment options for each patient. Some symptoms require immediate medical attention (see fact box).

“I feel the best way to shorten the duration of flu symptoms is to get vaccinated. The goal is to prevent the flu, but if such happens, being vaccinated should still help reduce severity,” Hamburger said. “If flu symptoms present, the quicker you are evaluated the better, as starting Tamiflu (Oseltamivir) ASAP will also help shorten the duration of symptoms.”

This season’s flu vaccine appears to succeed in reducing the severity of symptoms, according to Jennifer Schmitt, a Physician Assistant at MRH’s Rapid Care Clinic. The vaccine can’t guarantee flu prevention, but it can help minimize symptoms compared to those who didn’t get a flu shot.

Hamburger notes a 2018 CDC report as another case for getting a flu vaccine. The report showed that among adults hospitalized with the flu, vaccinated patients were 59 percent less likely to be admitted to the ICU than those who were unvaccinated. Another 2017 study showed that the flu vaccine reduced deaths, ICU admission, ICU length of stay and overall hospitalization among flu patients.

Treatment

To prevent spreading the flu, Schmitt said it’s important to wash your hands frequently and to stay home from work or school while contagious, which is usually the first 3 to 4 days after the symptoms began. The CDC also recommends staying home for 24 hours after a fever has resolved.

For those with flu or common cold symptoms, Hamburger said staying hydrated and rested are essential.

“I encourage patients and parents of young patients to have a very attentive focus on hydration. Fever can lead to dehydration and your body needs the extra fluids,” Hamburger said.

“An electrolyte solution like Pedialyte or Gatorade is a good idea because the added salt and sugar will help maintain one’s fluid balance. Control fever with Tylenol (Acetaminophen) or Ibuprofen as needed.”

There are anecdotal remedies that can’t hurt to try, either. Hamburger notes that warm baths help her children relax when they’re feeling crummy,

For anyone who suspects they have the flu and medical treatment is desired, Hamburger said the ideal window to seek treatment is within the first 48 hours from the start of symptoms.

The Suction Clinic for babies and young children

Babies and young children who get upper respiratory tract infections often can’t blow their nose or otherwise clear nasal secretions and mucus well on their own. That’s where MRH’s Suction Clinic can provide relief — for the kids as well as their parents.

The Suction Clinic’s respiratory therapists use a nasopharyngeal suction machine to suck out secretions, and they evaluate children by counting the respiratory rate and checking for oxygen saturation.

The Suction Clinic is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Hamburger said parents can get a prescription and it can be used up to 4 times a day for a week. There’s no appointment needed and the cost is $128 per visit, which is billed to insurance. To check in, visit the emergency department’s main desk and let them know you’re there for the Suction Clinic.



Columns

Janet Sheridan: The importance of stories

May 17, 2019

Stories enrich our lives. We tell them, listen to them, read them, repeat them, write them, watch them on TV, enjoy them in theaters. Stories teach us, entertain us, make us laugh, ease our social situations, and cement our friendships.



See more