Fever. Body aches. Crushing fatigue. Sore throat. Stuffy nose. Dry cough.
Welcome to flu season, which is peaking earlier on a national level than in any of the past 11 years, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Botsford Hospital in Farmington Hills isn't putting up tents, like one hospital in Pennsylvania, but doctors are seeing plenty of flu patients.
"We are seeing a lot of cases of flu that is culture positive for influenza A," said Dr. Sanford Vieder, who is chairman of emergency medicine and medical director of Botsford’s Emergency & Trauma Center. "There's no doubt that flu is spiking right now."
Still, Vieder said, "I don't think we've seen the peak of the wave in metro Detroit area. That will come in the next few weeks."
What especially concerns physicians, he said, is patients who are susceptible to complications, like young children and elderly folks who have heart disease or other conditions. Those patients may end up being hospitalized or even dying.
In Michigan, four flu-related deaths, including two in Fenton, have been confirmed. All of the victims were under the age of 16.
Because flu season isn't over, Vieder said there's still time to get a flu shot. He recommends having an intramuscular vaccination; although the injection can cause more soreness, the vaccine develops flu-fighting antibodies faster.
He acknowledges reports that some patients diagnosed with influenza A had gotten a flu shot. However, Vieder said no data exists that shows the vaccine is ineffective. Those who have the shot experience milder symptoms, he added.
"If you don't have a religious, moral or ethical belief," Vieder said, "my recommendation is that everybody go get vaccinated."
When to see a doctor
If you haven't had a vaccination and are experiencing a high fever and other flu symptoms, Vieder advises you to see your primary care doctor or visit urgent care as soon as possible. Two medications, Tamiflu and Relenza, can reduce the intensity of symptoms and shorten the amount of time you suffer with them, he said.
For those who have had the vaccine, "I'd be patient. Wait 24 hours, do the typical stuff, take fever reducers ... bed rest, plenty of fluids. If you're getting worse, see a physician."
Vieder said the reason he suggests waiting is to be certain it's the flu, and not a winter cold. Tamiflu and Relenza won't do anything to help a cold.
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