Dr. Jeremy Klope, assistant medical director at the Lourdes Emergency Department checks one of his staff members for symptoms related to a flu-like illness that has struck early this season. While not flu, the illness causes many of the same symptoms, including nasal congestion, cough, fever, aches and an upset stomach. Plenty of rest and fluids with over-the-counter medicines are recommended to treat symptoms and minimize the discomfort of the disease.
A Lourdes hospital physician reports seeing a higher number of viral respiratory illnesses earlier than usual.
Dr. Jeremy Klope, assistant medical director of Lourdes’ emergency department, said the virus mimics the flu with similar symptoms. Patients are reporting coughs, runny noses, fever and body aches. Some patients also report nausea, diarrhea and stomach pain with the disease.
“We haven’t seen any actual flu yet, but I expect it will be here shortly,” Klope said. “Compared to a common cold, this is worse. A cold is a virus, but this or the flu is stronger. You feel a lot worse.”
Klope said he noticed an increased number of people complaining of more severe allergy symptoms this fall.
“If you have allergies on top of this virus, it can make for a terrible couple of weeks,” Klope said.
To provide some protection as fall goes into winter, Klope recommends a flu shot. While unable to help with this flu-like virus, it will help a person defend against seasonal flu.
“The most important thing to prevent colds, flu or any viral infection is to wash your hands,” Klope said. “If you’re coughing or sneezing, wash your hands frequently. Viruses are spread through hand-to-hand contact and through aerosols. Remember to cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze.”
For treatment, Klope recommends over-the-counter remedies like decongestants, cough suppressants and acetaminophen or ibuprofen for aches and fever. Drinking ample water helps maintain hydration and keeps a patient from feeling worse.
“Most viruses take time to get over,” Klope said. “We can treat the symptoms, but most viruses will go the distance before you feel better.”
Klope said most patients feel worse early into their infection. As time goes by, patients tend to recover strength. He advised people to stay home when possible to rest and to avoid infecting others when feeling the worst.
“You might want to think about seeing a physician if you are having trouble breathing or are unable to keep fluids down. See your primary care physician, or if you don’t have one, think about visiting a nearby emergency department,” Klope said.