Distinguishing Between Flu And Other Bugs Is Key To Treatment


Thursday, January 10th 2013, 10:25 pm
By: Tess Maune


Hospitals and doctors' offices in Green Country are packed with patients complaining of flu-like symptoms.

But just because you have flu-like symptoms doesn't necessarily mean you've come down with the virus.

There are other bugs out there causing you to feel like you've got the flu, and doctors say, when you've got the real deal, you'll know.

"We're averaging about 24 patients a day and about 50 percent of them are being diagnosed positive with the flu virus," said Keith Veit, Director of Emergency and Trauma Services at St. John.

Veit said the most common flu signs are weakness and fatigue, followed by body aches and a fever.

It's when symptoms gets worse that you have to really worry.

1/10/2013 Related Story: 6 New Flu Deaths Reported In Oklahoma

Veit said you could experience a fast heart rate, dizzy spells, and shortness of breath.

"The fatigue is to the degree that to get up off the couch to go to the bathroom, it just causes you to be so compromised," he said.

At that point, Veit said there's no time to waste.

"The concern would be, ‘Will this change from influenza and convert into pneumonia?' Those are the kinds of patients that are actually being hospitalized," Veit said.

Hospitals say if you do come down with those serious symptoms, you should go to your doctor first or come to an urgent care facility.

The place to avoid, if at all possible, is the emergency room.

"I don't want to sit in a waiting room full of people that are sharing this virus," Veit said. "The flu is a virus and you get it from close quarters from other people."

Since it's a virus, Veit said the flu can't be treated with antibiotics.

"The treatment is symptomatic, and that's treat the fever, lots of fluids and gets lots of rest," he said.

1/10/2013 Related Story: Oklahoma Red Cross Offers Lists For Flu Precautions, Safety

And staying away from others is key to stopping the virus from spreading.

"Keep the person with the flu comfortable, keep them off by themselves," said Donita Quesnel, with the Red Cross.

If someone in your family comes down with the flu, the Red Cross says there are ways of caring for that person, without putting the rest of your family at risk.

"They should have their own bed, their own wash cloth, their own towel, their own sheets and, really, it's best if one person in the household can be designated to be the caregiver," Quesnel said.

Doctors say if the flu is diagnosed early - within 48 hours of coming down with the virus - there are options for treatment, like Tamiflu.