Have mild flu symptoms? Contact your primary care provider first.

By Stefanie Donahue

Healthcare professionals at PeaceHealth St. Joseph Medical Center are predicting full waiting rooms and high demand for treatment as cases of the flu continue to rise in Whatcom County. County health department officials are recommending the public to consult with their primary care provider before going to the hospital if mild flu symptoms persist.

“We’ve seen a large influx of flu patients, causing lengthy delays for patients in need of emergent care,” said Worth Everett, MD, medical director of trauma and emergency services at PeaceHealth. “If you can postpone care until the morning, a medical clinic is a more appropriate place to be seen.”

Mild flu symptoms don’t typically need medical care or antiviral drugs and include a fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headaches, chills, fatigue, diarrhea and vomiting, according to PeaceHealth. Warning signs, like the ones listed below, are cause for a visit to the
emergency room:

In children: fast or trouble breathing, bluish skin color, dehydration, not waking up or interacting, irritability, flu-like symptoms that improve but return in worse condition, fever with a rash, inability to eat, trouble breathing, no tears when crying or fewer wet diapers than normal.

In adults: difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen, sudden dizziness, confusion, severe or persistent vomiting, flu-like symptoms that improve but return in worse condition.

“The emergency room should be used for people who are very sick,” read a statement from PeaceHealth. “In most cases, people experiencing mild flu symptoms without high risk of flu complications should stay home and avoid contact with others except to get medical care.”

For more information about the flu, visit cdc.gov/flu/takingcare.htm.

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