Influenza or a Really Bad Cold? Get Better Faster

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Taking care of your health - Influenza or a bad cold, rest, plenty of fluids is a start to feeling better - Photo - DepositPhotos.com
Taking care of your health - Influenza or a bad cold, rest, plenty of fluids is a start to feeling better - Photo - DepositPhotos.com
Taking care of your health - Influenza or a bad cold, rest, plenty of fluids is a start to feeling better - Photo - DepositPhotos.com
Taking care of your health – Influenza or a bad cold, rest, plenty of fluids is a start to feeling better – Photo – DepositPhotos.com

THUNDER BAY – HEALTH – Across Thunder Bay, there are reported outbreaks of respiratory illness and flu. If you are battling the flu, there are a few things, other than simply struggle along. The impact is being seen at the Emergency Room at the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre. It is also being seen with visitor restrictions at Senior’s Homes across the city.

Physicians Premier ER is seeing a higher number of patients this year with Influenza A – H3N2 strain than last year. Patients are coming to Physicians Premier ER for a rapid diagnosis and faster treatment, knowing they will have no wait time or experience a waiting room full of patients with other conditions.

Physicians Premier ER is seeing a higher number of patients this year with Influenza A – H3N2 strain than last year. Patients are coming to Physicians Premier ER for a rapid diagnosis and faster treatment, knowing they will have no wait time or experience a waiting room full of patients with other conditions.

What’s the difference between Influenza A and B?
Influenza A causes more cough and respiratory symptoms and B causes more gastrointestinal symptoms.

Dr. Matthew Cross, ER doctor and Medical Director with Physicians Premier ER, explains, “This year, the flu vaccine hasn’t been as effective. Most flu seasons, the flu vaccine is roughly 60% effective, but this year it’s closer to 30%. Why? The US has been making flu vaccinations the same way for the past 70 years using eggs. The science behind matching the vaccine to the virus, sometimes, doesn’t line up. This is referred to as ‘genetic drift’. Regardless, even if you have had a flu shot and you get Influenza A or B, your symptoms are likely to be reduced or not as severe. We continue to recommend receiving a vaccine.”

How can you tell if you have the flu versus a bad cold?
Dr. Cross, continues, “the Flu comes on fast–it’s a rapid onset of a cough, fever and body aches. The flu does not linger; it hits hard and fast. This is the most noticeable difference as opposed to the common cold which has a more gradual onset. People often remember the time of day when flu symptoms hit.”

Flu is highly contagious, particularly during fever and up to 24 hours post fever. Keeping six feet from anyone with the virus is recommended which is hard to do when caring for family members. Wash hands frequently and use tissues when coughing.

Who should seek ER treatment for Flu and When?
People who are immunocompromised or who have multiple chronic illnesses such as diabetes or high blood pressure should be evaluated by a doctor to check vital signs at the onset of flu symptoms. Also, those also who are unable to keep down fluids, have trouble breathing or whose symptoms aren’t being controlled with ibuprofen or acetaminophen, should get a medical evaluation.

Alternatively, if a patient’s fever is consistently above 102°, Physicians Premier ER recommends a medical evaluation to check vital signs which could include checking his or her breathing, heart rates, oxygenation, organ functions with possible additional chest X-ray, blood work and IV hydration–the later of these being Emergency Room care functions and capabilities.

Most often, the ER can treat flu with IV hydration, vitamin, and symptomatic support. Patients that might need further hospitalization are those who aren’t responding or who may have overlying pneumonia. Patients can be admitted for short-term observation in all Physicians Premier ER locations for continued treatment. This offers a tremendous convenience to the community and keeps less severe cases out of the over-crowded hospitals.

What about taking Tamiflu?
Tamiflu is most helpful to those who are immunocompromised or who have chronic illnesses. This medication is shown to shorten symptoms by half a day, which for most cases is not necessary.

Remember:

  • Hydration is key to treatment
  • Monitor fever/temperature
  • Alternate ibuprofen and acetaminophen every 3 hours to alleviate symptoms
  • Sleep elevated to avoid as much fluid in the lungs, allowing more drainage.
  • Limit taking decongestants–coughing, although painful and annoying, is key to protecting the lungs. Decongestants are also dehydrating.

Thunder Bay Health Unit Outbreak Update

Hogarth Riverview Manor

  • Influenza A respiratory outbreak in the Orchid (5 South), Rose (6 North), Tulip (6 South), Trillium (7 North) and Violet (7 South) Resident Home Areas

Jasper Place

  • Influenza A respiratory facility-wide outbreak

Lakehead Manor

  • Influenza A respiratory facility-wide outbreak

Roseview Manor

  • Influenza A respiratory facility-wide outbreak

St. Joseph’s Hospital

  • Influenza A respiratory outbreaks in the Medically Complex Services Unit (2 South and 2 North)

The Walford

  • Influenza A respiratory facility-wide outbreak

All admissions, transfers, discharges and social activities will be canceled during an outbreak. Visitors are restricted to family members and caregivers only, so please call the facility for more information.

The Health Unit is urging people to refrain from visiting hospitals and long-term care facilities when feeling unwell to avoid spreading infections to those most vulnerable: young infants and children, the elderly and those with other chronic illnesses.

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