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The flu is running rampant in our community. In fact, it is “widespread” in our community and the vast majority of the country according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.
We have received several emails from patients and family members expressing concern about their experience in the emergency department not being what they expected. We asked Dr. David Dubow, an emergency department physician with Wake Emergency Physicians, to help us understand what patients visiting a healthcare provider with flu-like symptoms can expect. Here are his answers to our questions:
Should I seek medical care if I think I have been EXPOSED to the flu?
The flu is a highly contagious virus, but exposure to a sick person does not mean you will get the flu. The best thing to do if you have been exposed to the flu is to watch and wait for symptoms to appear and then treat the symptoms. Of course, if you have an underlying chronic health condition like COPD, asthma or are very old or very young, it never hurts to consult your primary care physician for advice.
Should I seek medical care if I think I HAVE the flu?
Since the flu is a virus there is very little doctors can do to help you through. In other words, if you have the flu, we can’t fix the problem or make you feel better quickly. We’ll probably mostly recommend rest, hydration, and a healthy diet to help get you well as soon as possible. There are a few things we can do, however:
When should I come to the emergency department?
As always, come to the emergency department if you think you are having a medical emergency. The American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) offers a list of warning signs that indicate a medical emergency. These warning signs include:
• Difficulty breathing, shortness of breath
• Chest or upper abdominal pain or pressure
• Fainting, sudden dizziness, weakness
• Changes in vision
• Confusion or changes in mental status
• Any sudden or severe pain
• Uncontrolled bleeding
• Severe or persistent vomiting or diarrhea
• Coughing or vomiting blood
• Suicidal feelings
• Difficulty speaking
• Shortness of breath
• Unusual abdominal pain
If you have a question about the flu you would a physician to answer, please either comment here or email us at email@example.com.
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