Is it the cold, or something worse?

Cold weather often leaves people with running noses, but when is a case of the sniffles something more serious?

Michiana doctors report that there haven’t been an abnormal number of influenza-like-illnesses coming into emergency rooms, however, that doesn’t make the disease any less serious.

Weather conditions like extreme cold and snowy roads prevented many from leaving their homes earlier this week. When the driving bans were lifted those suffering with non-emergency level sicknesses turned to physicians and pharmacies for medical treatment.

St. Joseph Regional Medical Center emergency room doctor, April Hodnicak, said they were handling primarily senior citizens.

According to Dr. Hodnicak, the elderly tend to experience complications related to the flu and common cold because they have other underlying conditions.

After the holidays Dr. Hodnicak said there were a lot of patients with influenza-like symptoms such as coughing, fever, and G.I. issues. Close contact in tight spaces around the holidays can serve as a breeding ground for germs and leaves many with residual colds.

“They fear it because they just feel miserable,” said Dr. Hodnicak. Patients enter the doctor’s office with a laundry list ailments but Hodnicak said influenza is like the common cold “ten times worse.”

Professional medical treatment may be necessary if symptoms persist for more than three days, if fatigue and chest pain worsen, or if a high fever resists over the counter medication.

To avoid getting sick with influenza or other respiratory infections doctors say the best way is for people to wash their hands frequently, avoid sharing utensils or food products and minimize contact with anyone who is already exhibiting flu like symptoms.

With the recent increases in the number of flu cases in the region physicians advise that there are still locations where people can be vaccinated.

Med-Point24 on Main St. in Ganger has flu vaccines, as do some local pharmacies, but remember to call ahead in case they are sold out.

Over in Elkhart the county’s health department is offering a walk in clinic Friday, Jan. 10 from 8:30-11:30 a.m., and 1:00-3:00 p.m. and again on Monday, Jan. 13 from 8:30-11:30 a.m. and 1:00-4:30 p.m.


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