Hospitals in Windsor-Essex being strained by spike in flu-related illness
In many cases, Dr. Wassim Saad said the flu is "self-resolving" and people will recover on their own
An increasing number of people showing flu symptoms in Windsor-Essex is putting pressure on hospitals, increasing emergency room waits at the same time.
Numbers from the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit show a spike in the number of people being treated for the flu. Just before Christmas, 239 people visited the ER with influenza-like symptoms or respiratory issues.
The number jumped to about 400 the following two weeks.
Windsor Regional Hospital's chief of staff Dr. Wassim Saad said it may not be in your best interest to visit the ER with flu-related symptoms. Currently, wait times in the emergency departments are about five hours, on average, in order to be seen by a doctor.
"It's a prolonged wait in the emergency room," he said. "You may contract an illness from someone waiting who may be sicker than you, and you may spread what you have to others in the emergency room as well."
In many cases, Saad said the flu is "self-resolving" and people will recover on their own.
"But if you have sustained fever for more than 24 hours, if you're not able to eat or drink, if you experience extreme chest pain or abdominal pain, those would be all reasons to seek medical attention," said Saad. "Other than that, the best recommendation would be to stay at home, stay hydrated, stay away from other people in large crowds where you could potentially infect others."
Pharmacies are also seeing an increase in people seeking help for flu-related symptoms.
However, Belle River pharmacist Tim Brady said some people are confusing a bad cold with influenza.
Flu season hit later due to mild weather
"Most of the time when people come in with the symptoms they're having ... it's just a cold," said Brady. "You didn't get it from getting the flu shot. So, they confuse the two. There is a little bit of a need for some clarification."
It's too early to tell how bad this season's flu season will be, but officials said it hit later this year due to the mild weather.
Typically, local hospitals report the first case of the flu as early as October.
Doctors are still encouraging people to get a flu shot because they're confident it matches the strain that's circulating.