The number of flu cases continue to rise. In Spokane County, more than 300 people have been hospitalized because of it and 14 of them have died.
So how do you know you have the flu? KHQ met with Dr. Bob Lutz, Spokane County health officer. He says that the flu is a respiratory illness and if you have it, you’ll know it’s more than a cold.
“You have the body aches. Everything hurts. I’ve had people tell me their eyes hurt, their hair hurts,” he says. “It’s really that profound, ‘I feel sick now.’”
So the first thing you should do if you feel that is go home. Dr. Lutz says you’re contagious so stay home and start “supportive treatment,” which means getting plenty of fluids, rest, and taking medicine for the pain.
But let’s say you’re a caregiver. Dr. Lutz says you can have a conversation with your healthcare provider to see if you need to start an antiviral medication. He says also, if you are worried, “if they’re concerned enough to be seen by a provider, then go.”
Dr. Lutz says the major symptom you should watch out for is shortness of breath. If you start experiencing that or if your condition deteriorates quickly, go see a doctor.
For more information on how to best prevent the flu and this flu season: https://srhd.org/health-topics/diseases-conditions/flu
KHQ also reached out to Providence about the growing number of patients they’re seeing, and they sent us this statement:
With the start of a very active flu season, Providence hospitals, urgent care centers and clinics are seeing a high volume of patients. Our census has been running about 20 percent higher than usual for this time of year.
As we often do in unusual situations, we have convened a team of experts from our Providence hospitals and clinics throughout Spokane and Stevens counties who meet daily to assess our current capacity, adjust staffing, and monitor equipment and supplies so that we can continue to care for all who come to us. This team also collaborates with the Spokane Regional Health District and other community partners for ongoing planning.
Patients needing hospitalization are coming to us for many reasons. Flu is only one contributor to high patient volumes. We have increased staffing levels throughout our hospitals. We are placing patients in semi-private and private rooms based on medical need and to ensure the best possible care. As patients are discharged, we are working quickly to prepare rooms for new admissions.