Twenty more people died of the flu in North Carolina during the week ending on January 27, according to the State Health Department. New numbers show influenza led to the deaths of 95 people here, since October. The seriousness of the situation is making it more important than ever to identify the correct signs and symptoms of the flu.
Dr. Chris Ohl, an infectious disease specialist with Wake Forest Baptist Health, wants to remind people about the true symptoms of influenza. He says it’s a respiratory illness, not a stomach bug. Look for cough, muscle aches and fatigue and sometimes but not always a fever.
He says vomiting and diarrhea are not usually signs of the flu, although they can occur in some cases.
Thanks to a viral social media post, some parents seem to be looking for hives as a sign of the flu, as well.
In the post, which has been shared hundreds of thousands of times, a mother says her son came home from school with hives. She says she called his pediatrician and they said they had two more kids come into the office that day with the same symptoms who tested positive for influenza.
Dr. Ohl says hives or rashes are not a feature of influenza and parents shouldn’t look to that as a sign of the flu.
There is good news. Dr. Ohl says data shows the flu is peaking here in the Triad. He expects the total number of cases to start decreasing.
But even with fewer cases, people will still get sick. Dr. Ohl says you need to watch out for signs of complications from the flu, the most serious being pneumonia.
“Usually this involves what we would call a double sickening. So you have a fever and a headache and bad body aches and some cough and then it starts to get better, but then all of a sudden it comes back hard, your cough gets worse, your fever goes back up again,” said Dr. Ohl.
He says other signs of pneumonia are confusion, intense shortness of breath and a total inability to function. Seek immediate medical attention if you experience those symptoms.