Winston-Salem, NC - Sneezing, coughing, fever, chills... You know the feeling, it's the flu.
We are about a month in to this flu season and doctors at the Forsyth Medical Center Emergency Department say they're seeing an increase in patients, even patients who took the preventative step by getting the vaccination.
Read: First 2 Flu Deaths Of The 2012-2013 Season Are From Forsyth County
"It's typical to see a lot, a big uptick in cases; this is a more severe season though than the average I would say. The vaccine this year has been offered and many people have been vaccinated, and by the way, everyone should be vaccinated about the age of 6 months, but a lot of people don't seem to be responding that we've seen to the vaccination. So there is probably a greater than normal burden on the emergency this year," explained Dr. Tom Shields, Forsyth Medical Center.
Shields says while you think you may need to go to the ER, most people with the flu don't.
"For most people, kind of what grandmother would recommend would be adequate treatment, so lots of fluids, fever control things of that nature. Kind of bed rest, avoiding contact with other people is important. There are certain groups of people that should go to the emergency department but most people don't need to," said Shields.
That group of people who need to go to the emergency room include young children, the elderly, pregnant women and people with pre-existing conditions like heart or lung disease.
Dr. Shields says for the rest of us, there isn't anything the emergency room can do for you that your doctor can't do.
"Many people think the flu can be treated with antibiotics, so the flu is a viral illness that there is really no cure for. There is supportive care and we do have medicines that treat the virus that causes the flu, those medicines suppress the virus and shorten the course of the flu, it doesn't actually cure it," said Shields.
If you think you have the flu, Dr. Shields says don't wait to get it diagnosed. The earlier it's detected, the earlier treatment can begin.
You can self treat - that means taking fever reducers, cough medicines, drinking plenty of fluids and getting rest.
Dr. Shields says you need to go to the doctor if you feel too sick to stay home, if you're coughing up blood, can't keep down fluids, or have shortness of breath.
Forsyth Medical Center has a call center called Care Connections. Nurses are there to answer your questions and its open 24 hours, 7 days a week.
That number is 336-718-7070 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 336-718-7070 end_of_the_skype_highlighting.
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