BOARDMAN, Ohio (WYTV) – Those keeping an eye on the nation’s influenza outbreak say the season may hang around for six extra weeks.
As Boardman family physician Dr. George Ellis checked the Centers for Disease Control website, he said the vast majority of patients he saw over the weekend are still showing flu-like symptoms.
“You can see that the whole country’s covered.”
According to the Ohio Department of Health, nearly 11,000 people have been hospitalized this season with the flu as of last Friday. Almost 240 of those were recorded just in Mahoning County.
“They’re coming into the office or the Urgent Care with flu-like symptoms that have been present for three, four, five days and they’re not…getting treated early enough,” Ellis said.
He worries many aren’t paying enough attention.
“What I’m seeing is people are taking it kind of lightly,” he said. “They’re not getting in, they’re not getting evaluated.”
Locally, the majority of cases appear to be the Influenza A virus, but doctors say the bug leaves patients and their immune systems worn out.
“Then if you come across a second pathogen, a second germ that hits you, then you don’t have as much energy, as much resources to fight that off,” family physician Dr. Tom Albani said.
- Fever (not everyone with the flu will have a fever)
- Sore throat
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Body aches
- Sometimes diarrhea and vomiting
Both doctors say in most cases, flu-related fevers should subside after two or three days, with other symptoms lasting another week or so.
If symptoms persist beyond that time or if new worsening symptoms arise, don’t ignore them.
“They’re having trouble breathing, getting more short of breath. There’s a change in mental status, they’re not quite as alert and clear-headed as they normally are. Those kinds of symptoms going on, boy, you don’t play with that. You get checked, you have somebody take a look at you,” Albani said.
Also, if you are in a high-risk group or are very sick or worried about your symptoms, you should see a doctor.
According to the CDC, most who get the flu only have a mild illness and do not need medical care or antiviral drugs.
To treat a mild form of the flu, the CDC recommends staying home and resting for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone. Your fever should be gone without the use of fever-reducing medicines like Tylenol.
In the meantime, looking at his map, Dr. Ellis said the CDC has already extended the flu season.
“We’re looking at the end of March, beginning of April for this thing to stop and settle down.”