U.S. emergency rooms inundated with flu patients

Published 11:45 am Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Call in sick!

That is the advice from emergency physicians for those who happen to have flu-like symptoms.

Doctors suggest it’s one of the best ways to help prevent the spread of this year’s particularly aggressive national flu outbreak.

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that at least 40 states are currently dealing with a moderate to serious flu outbreak.

“Even with flu-like symptoms, many people still try to go to work, school or other activities,” said Dr. Andrew Sama, president of the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP). “This is only making a bad situation worse, spreading the virus and getting more people sick.  Not to mention, you are putting yourself at greater risk of worsening your current health situation such as developing pneumonia.”

Doctors advise that you rest at home until you start to feel better.

According to ACEP, emergency physicians throughout the country are experiencing in their emergency departments. The general consensus is that they are seeing significantly higher numbers of patients with flu symptoms compared to this time in past years.

Those at highest risk of flu include the elderly, pregnant women and people with special medical needs.

Typical symptoms include fever, sore throat, runny nose and upper respiratory symptoms, headache, fatigue, and muscle or body aches.  To get over it quickly, doctors advise those with flu symptoms drink plenty of liquids, get rest, and if diagnosed early take antiviral medication.


Adults should seek emergency care if they are experiencing any of these symptoms:

  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
  • Sudden dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Severe or persistent vomiting


Specifically for children:

  • Fast breathing or trouble breathing
  • Bluish skin color
  • Not drinking enough fluids
  • Not waking up or not interacting
  • Being so irritable that the child does not want to be held
  • Fever with a rash


In addition to all of the symptoms above, an infant who as any of the following signs should get emergency care:

  • Irritability/ being inconsolable
  • Inability to eat or drink
  • Trouble breathing
  • No tears when crying
  • Significantly fewer wet diapers than normal
  • Persistent fevers