Doctor examining sick child in face mask for rsv virus, rsv, respiratory syncytial virus, infectious virus

Respiratory illness on the rise

COVID-19, Influenza, and RSV (Respiratory Syncytial Virus), and other respiratory illness are on the rise in our communities.

With COVID-19, flu, RSV (Respiratory Syncytial Virus), and other respiratory illnesses in our communities, we are experiencing high demand and longer wait times in our clinics and Emergency Department.

If you are not very sick, please stay home and treat your symptoms with rest, fluids, and over-the-counter remedies. Lab testing for most viral respiratory infections including influenza and COVID-19 is usually not necessary. Please use an at-home test kit if you have concerns about COVID-19.

Seek medical attention if:

  • Your symptoms worsen
  • Your symptoms become severe, or
  • You are at increased risk for severe illness (those who are very young, pregnant, older than 65, or have a chronic medical condition).

More information on RSV and flu is available below. You can also visit our COVID-19 information site.

Respiratory illness in children

For most children, RSV is NOT a medical emergency. Runny nose, congestion, cough, and fevers are common at this time and should be carefully monitored with rest, fluids, and fever reducers. But how do you know when your child’s cold symptoms have become more serious?  When should you call the clinic, and when should you bring them to the hospital?

When in doubt, it’s always ok to talk to your provider. Call or go online to schedule an appointment for an in-person or virtual visit or ask a question about your child’s symptoms.

 

Contact your medical provider if your child:

  • Continues to have cough, congestion for more than 10-14 days.
  • Is wheezing or having pain with coughing but is not having trouble breathing.
  • Has prolonged fever more than 3-4 days and higher than 100.4°
  • Is vomiting and unable to keep fluids down for a day. Is having trouble feeding or less wet diapers.
  • Will not take any oral fluids for more than 12 hours or is having less than 3 wet diapers in 24 hours.
  • Is fussy, unable to sleep well, tugs at ears or has ear drainage.

 

Bring your child to the Emergency Department if he or she is unresponsive or has:

  • Trouble breathing (ribs sucking in with breathing, flaring nostrils when breathing, pauses breathing, audible wheezing, or is unable to feed normally due to breathing problems).
  • Fever of higher than 100.4°F for more than 5 days in a row.
  • Listlessness or lethargy (is not alert or responding to you normally) especially after being given a fever-reducing medication.
  • An underlying medical condition like asthma or heart disease and your specialist wants them seen.
  • A recommendation from your pediatrician to be seen in the emergency department.
  • A change in skin color: is pale, blue or gray especially around the lips, hands and feet.
Flu and what to do

Influenza (flu) is caused by an influenza virus that often causes a respiratory illness.

  • Symptoms vary for each person but often include fever, headache and body aches, and fatigue. Some people may also have sore throat, cough, or runny nose.
  • For many people, the symptoms will improve over 2-5 days but for others may last longer. Most people who are sick from the flu will get better on their own within 1-2 weeks (or sooner).
  • Some people have a higher risk of getting very sick with the flu:
    • Adults ages 65 and older
    • Children under the age of 5 (and especially under the age of 2)
    • Women who are pregnant
    • Individuals with certain chronic medical conditions

 

If you think you have the flu:

  • Stay home, rest, and drink plenty of fluids.
  • You should stay home until your fever is gone for at least 24 hours without taking a medication that reduces fever.
  • Over-the-counter medicines like acetaminophen (Tylenol) can help with symptoms like fevers or body aches.
  • People who have a high risk of getting very sick with the flu might be candidates for a medication to help decrease the length of their flu symptoms if diagnosed soon after symptoms start. Not everyone needs medication for treating the flu.
  • Antibiotics do not treat influenza.

Testing for flu is not always needed, particularly if you’ve been exposed to someone with flu and develop symptoms like fever and body aches. The test result does not change the treatment options.

If you have questions about symptoms or are at higher risk of getting very sick with the flu, you should talk to your medical team.

 

Contact your medical team if you have:

  • Cough or congestion that is lasting more than 2 weeks.
  • Wheezing or pain with coughing but not trouble breathing
  • Fever that lasts more than 5 days or does not improve with medications
  • Dizziness when you change positions but no falls or losing consciousness

 

Call 911 or come to the Emergency Department if you have:

  • New or worsening difficulty breathing
  • Skin, lips, or fingernails look blue
  • Cough or other respiratory symptoms are getting worse
  • Severe vomiting or diarrhea
  • Dehydration or not being able to eat or drink anything for 24 hours
  • Chest pain or pressure
  • Dizziness at rest, falls, or losing consciousness from your dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Drowsiness or trouble staying awake

Testing limitations in the Emergency Department

Currently demand for services is high and you may experience delays, particularly for non-emergency conditions. We perform testing for RSV, influenza, and COVID-19 only for severe or select cases. We do not do testing in the Emergency Department for return to school/work or at the request of patients/parents.

La demanda de servicios es alta y es posible que hayan retrasos, especialmente para condiciones que no sean de emergencia. Hacemos pruebas solo para casos graves o seleccionados del virus respiratorio sincitial (RSV), influenza y COVID-19. No hacemos pruebas en el Departamento de emergencias para la vuelta a la escuela/al trabajo o a pedido de pacientes/padres.

Protect yourself

  • Wash your hands
  • Stay away from others who are sick
  • Wear a mask if you need to be around others who are sick
  • Get your flu shot each year in the fall or winter