Reader Question: "I heard on the news that hospitals are jammed with flu sufferers. What symptoms make a hospital visit necessary?"
Renata says: Although most people recover fully from the flu, some develop serious complications, including life-threatening conditions such as pneumonia. About 20,000 people in the United States die of flu complications each year, and thousands more need to be hospitalized prior to recovery.
If a patient has a chronic disease and suddenly gets flu symptoms, they should call their doctor right away. Patients should also notify their doctor if they have flu-like symptoms with chest pain, ear pain, shortness of breath, fever that is not going away, or a cough that produces blood or thick, foul-smelling mucus.
You should go to the hospital if:
Otherwise, with the help of medications like Tylenol and proper water intake, your body’s immune system should fight the flu and resolve symptoms within seven days. Also, antiviral medications could be helpful, if taken within 48 hours of noticing flu symptoms.
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Renata Gelman, RN, BSN, is clinical manager for Partners in Care, an affiliate of the Visiting Nurse Service of New York (VNSNY), the largest home health care agency in the United States. Partners in Care strives to provide the highest quality private care services to people in their homes or communities, including personal care and companionship, private-duty nursing, patient review assessments and geriatric care management.
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