The flu is hitting people hard in the Northwest and local emergency rooms are overcrowded and just trying to keep up.
Two children in Oregon have died of the flu in the last month, according to the Oregon Health Authority, and the emergency room staff at PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center in Vancouver is dealing with 20 percent more patients in just the last 10 days.
Dr. Jason Hanley at PeaceHealth says this year’s flu season is worse than last year and his team is stretched thin.
“Prolonged admission time, prolonged time in the ED to be seen by our physicians. So it’s put a lot of strain on everyone here as well as through the region. Every emergency department director I’ve talked to is about 20 to 30 percent over their normal census.”
A big problem is that most flu patients should not go to the emergency room. Unless they are a young child, an elderly patient or someone with high fever, dizziness or dehydration, Dr. Hanley says they can probably treat themselves at home.
To avoid overcrowding in emergency rooms and exposing people to even more germs, Hanley says make some calls and do some research.
“If you read online or speak with advice nurses, there’s not a whole lot we can do for influenza unless you’re very ill,” said Hanley. “It’s very conservative therapy with fluids, ibuprofen, Tylenol and usually it takes three to five days to start feeling better.”
Dr. Hanley says this year’s flu vaccine is not as effective as expected, but experts still recommend getting it. Hanley also advises people to wash their hands frequently, cover their cough and stay home from work when they're sick.
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