When should you head to the hospital if you catch the flu?


High fever, coughing, sneezing and body aches are signs that you may have the flu.   

Doctors state you should stay home, rest, take the recommended medication, get plenty of fluids and wash your hands.

“Flu virus goes from person to person. It can’t really survive on inanimate objects,” said Dr. Zane Saul, Chief of Infectious Disease at Bridgeport Hospital.

He added you should call your doctor if symptoms worsen, “If you’re diabetic, or have heart disease or have lung disease and your symptoms seem to progress and you develop shortness of breath, get yourself to the hospital.”

Difficulty breathing also holds true for children, but parents do not always recognize the symptoms.  

“Which is why they need to err on the side of being cautious and talk to their pediatrician early rather than waiting. Let the pediatrician assess, even over the phone initially, whether things look they are severe enough to warrant a trip to the ED,” stated Dr. Harris Jacobs, Chief of Pediatrics at Yale New Haven Children’s Hospital at Bridgeport Hospital.

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The rush to the emergency department could lead to the intensive care unit

“When you get to the hospital, we’re going to put you in a private room. Everybody who is going to come to see you is going to have a mask on to protect themselves. Everybody around you is going to be washing their hands,” Dr. Saul said. 

“If a child is that sick, even if they don’t have the flu, they still require treatment, so they will start hydration with intravenous fluids usually and admit the child to the floor for monitoring, to try to stave off or recognize if some form of respiratory distress occurs,” Dr. Jacobs explained.

Young kids are extremely vulnerable. 

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“They have not yet really been exposed to the flu virus before, so the chances of having any antibodies to the flu virus that might protect them doesn’t exist. The other problem is they have very small airways, so their airways get mucous in them and they tend to obstruct more easily and are more likely to get pneumonia and get complications,” Dr Jacobs added. 

People with weak immune systems have a tough time fighting back. 

“The immunity in the lung gets diminished and you develop bacterial secondary pneumonia and that can overwhelm the respiratory system and you may develop respiratory failure,” Dr. Saul said.  

Hospitals do test for the flu, which Dr. Saul said is more accurate and can pinpoint certain strains.

This provides information, he stated, that can be used to help develop next year’s flu shot.

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