Advice on when flu patients should go to the hospital

When Should Flu Patients Come to the Hospital?

Dr. Terence McCarthy, emergency physician on the medical staff at Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Fort Worth, offers these tips for flu patients seeking treatment.

We’re experiencing a pretty heavy flu season that hit us early this year.

How do you know if you have the flu? You might feel like you’ve been hit by a truck, have sudden high fever, muscle aches, sore throat, runny nose, and/or a cough.

In general, you don’t need to come to the emergency room for the flu. I recommend that people do “supportive care” at home — treating fever and body aches with over-the-counter pain relievers, drink fluids, and rest. Your own body will fight it off.

You should come to the hospital if flu symptoms are lasting more than four days or if symptoms start to go away but then become more severe.

People with co-morbidities should also come to the hospital. For example, those with asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease who are feeling short of breath or those with diabetes who are having trouble managing blood sugar.

If you haven’t had a flu shot yet, there’s still time to get it. The vast majority of flu patients we have seen did not get the flu shot. It’s really very effective and well worth it.

Physicians on the medical staff practice independently and are not employees or agents of the hospital or Texas Health Resources.

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