Flu cases causing rise in ER visits - MyFoxAustin.com | KTBC Fox 7 | News, Weather, Sports

Flu cases causing rise in ER visits

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As the flu outbreak worsens, patients have been flooding emergency rooms for help. But that may not always be the best option.

Doctors at Saint David's Medical Center say they have seen three times the amount of patients in just this month than they did the entire flu season last year.

The problem nationwide is ER's are overwhelmed with flu suffers. But hospital officials say it's a better idea to call your personal doctor for advice on how to care for yourself at home. The flu can't be treated with antibiotics. But many people think it requires a trip to ER. But spending time there only puts you at risk and takes doctors away from patients who really need emergency care.

Here's when you should show up to the ER.

"If you can't keep fluids down that means you need to be seen. If you can't keep the fever down with Tylenol or Motrin that means you need to be seen. If you are having shortness of breath and retractable cough, not urinating, dehydrated might have metabolic problems and need to be evaluated as well," said Dr. Dan Mackay, Emergency Physician at St. David's Medical Center.

Patients over 65 and under the age of 5 are at high risk for the flu. Nationally, so far 20 children have died from the flu. Overall the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says 24,000 people die each year from the flu.

While they say not everyone needs to be taken to the ER, many parents are unsure when to make that call. St. David's doctors say a good measure is when the child's fever reaches 104.

"I think 104 is a good one to use. It's how prolonged it is and whether or not they are eating and can take medication for their fever is whether you need to be seen," Dr. Mackay said.

If your child is not eating, drinking, is vomiting and having diarrhea and not urinating, it's a bad combo and will lead to dehydration. Doctors urge parents to monitor their kids closely.

Some of the symptoms of the flu are fever, cough, runny nose, head and body aches and fatigue. Some people also suffer vomiting and diarrhea.

It is not too late to get the flu shot, but they are going fast.

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