AUSTINTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Ohio’s flu activity is at the highest level it can reach, with almost 4,000 people being hospitalized across the state since the season started in October. With the flu so strong this year, medical professionals want you to know when it’s time to go to the ER.
In the first week of January, there were more than 1,700 Ohioans hospitalized because of the flu. On Wednesday, the State Department of Health reported that two children had died from the flu.
Last year, Ohio didn’t reach widespread flu activity until the middle of January. This season, it hit that level in early December.
Hospitals around the Valley are seeing a rise in patients with the flu. Some ERs say they have patients lining up and not enough beds to get to them all at once.
“It’s a pretty busy flu year,” said Daniel Ludwig, a nurse practitioner. “I think the weather has a lot to do with it.”
Dr. Supreet Dhaliwal agreed with Ludwig’s weather philosophy.
“Plus a lot of them maybe aren’t getting the flu vaccine,” she said.
Dhaliwal said the majority of patients she’s seen haven’t had the flu vaccine.
“They’re coming with fever, chills, body aches, headache, runny noses, coughs.”
However, the Mahoning County Board of Health said last week that the strain of flu making people sick is changing, possibly making the vaccine less effective in some cases.
Dhaliwal still recommends getting the flu shot.
As far as making a trip to the emergency room, she said that should only have to happen if you put off a trip to the doctor for too long and complications flare up.
“They can have pneumonia and all that. Especially the elderly — more than 65 years old — pregnant women and children.”
Symptoms of complications include:
- Difficulty breathing
- Chest pain or severe abdominal pain
- Sudden dizziness
- Severe vomiting or vomiting that won’t stop
Dhaliwal said it’s best to just see a doctor even if you aren’t sure the symptoms are flu-related.
“When they look too sick, when they come with the flu, I usually write antibiotics to prevent any complications.”
If you’re a parent, doctors say flu symptoms are the same in kids.
One of the easiest ways to prevent getting sick is simply washing your hands.