Illnesses but no epidemic

Published 12:00 am Saturday, February 12, 2005

If you’ve noticed an awful lot of your friends, family members, co-workers and fellow students seem to be sniffling, sneezing, getting queasy and feeling just plain miserable lately, it’s not your imagination.

The good news is – the latest rash of illness doesn’t appear to be any type of flu epidemic, local health officials say.

Joey Hobbs, chief nursing officer for LV Stabler Memorial Hospital in Greenville, says, while the hospital and local doctor’s offices have been very busy this week treating a variety of ailments, they have seen very few cases of influenza.

&uot;Fortunately, we aren’t seeing too much flu right now, but we are seeing a lot of folks with upper respiratory infections, bronchitis and some cases of pneumonia. There are a lot of people coming down with gastrointestinal illnesses as well.&uot;

Pediatric patients are also coming in with respiratory illnesses and asthma conditions, says Hobbs.

At Stabler Clinic, Clinic Manager David Norrell says they have seen many of the same type of illnesses being treated at the hospital.

&uot;We were extremely busy with patients earlier in the week, but by the latter part of the week things have really slowed down, so that’s good,&uot; Norrell says. He added, &uot;We are definitely not seeing any type of flu epidemic in our area, so we don’t want people to unnecessarily worry about that.&uot;

So, if you have been lucky enough to avoid getting sick so far, what can you do to continue to stay well?

&uot;My advice is to stay out of crowds. And if you start to feel bad, the sooner you seek treatment, the better. It will at least shorten the length of the illness,&uot; says Hobbs.

And if you do fall ill, use the common-sense approach to getting better. Hobbs recommends plenty of rest, fluids, Motrin or Tylenol for general pain and aches and OTC antihistamines and decongestants.

&uot;I recommend plenty of water and Gatorade when you need to avoid dehydration – stay away from the caffeinated drinks as they can make matters worse.&uot; For those with gastrointestinal illnesses, over-the-counter anti-diarrheals and anti-nausea medications can bring relief.

&uot;Of course, if the over-the-counter meds don’t work, you need to go see you primary care physician,&uot; stresses Hobbs.

Hobbs also adds a word of warning to those with heart disease, hypertension, and diabetes.

&uot;There are some OTC meds that can cause heart palpitations and raise your blood pressure; some have sugar in them. I suggest you ask your pharmacist for help and guidance so they can help steer you toward something that will not affect you adversely.&uot;