People running to ER due to flu scare


by SHANNON MURRAY / KVUE NEWS and photojournalist JOHN GUSKY

Bio | Email | Follow: @ShannonM_KVUE

Posted on January 10, 2013 at 6:19 PM

Updated Thursday, Jan 10 at 6:28 PM

AUSTIN -- The flu outbreak across the country and in Texas has people on high alert. Now many are rushing to the emergency room in a panic.

High fever, body aches, there's no doubt that the flu is miserable. After hearing of deadly cases in Texas and across the country, many are taking extra precautions and dashing to the emergency room at the first sign of sickness, but by doing that you may actually be creating another problem.

"There's no question this is a very busy flu season, and we've been seeing a lot of cases here at Dell," explained Pat Crocker, M.D., the chief of emergency medicine at Dell Children's Medical Center.

Dr. Crocker says although lots of people are getting sick right now, flu is actually considered a minor illness.

"Most people who have no other health conditions get over the flu very easily," he said.

So while doctors at Dell Children's Hospital say you should take necessary measures if you think you're getting sick, you may want to think twice before heading into the ER.

"The fact that you feel ill may not be indicative of a real emergency, and someone with chest pain, or shortness of breath, or an asthma attack, or some trauma is going to be seen first," Dr. Crocker said.

That means you could end up waiting for hours before you're seen, and if you don't actually have the flu, you might leave with it.

"There's no doubt that being around people that are ill increase your chances of getting the illness yourself," Dr. Crocker said.

So don't panic yet. Try a home remedy and take it easy before you head to the emergency room.

If you're feeling under the weather, check with your primary care physician or clinic first. If you have fever that goes on beyond four days, that's when you should head to the ER. Don't forget it's not too late to get a flu shot if you haven't already.

Click here for more information on the flu, including a flu vaccine locator based on zip code.

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