Record numbers of flu cases and other viral illnesses are impacting communities across the nation and Burr Ridge is no exception. In fact, we broke a record here at the Loyola Immediate Care Clinic in Burr Ridge on December 26th when we saw 111 patients in just one day.
Though the number of cases of influenza or flu seems to be declining we are still seeing a large number of cases in the clinic. Also surging are other illnesses including acute gastroenteritis or what many call the stomach flu.
In the month of December we saw 1,809 patients, nearly 30 percent were seen the week of Christmas. As of January 21st we have seen 1,020 patients.
Though patients come to the clinic for a variety of reasons the majority have come with “flu-like” symptoms or stomach issues.
Most people think when they have vomiting or stomach issues it’s the flu. But, this often isn’t the case. Here are some tips to help you understand your symptoms.
STOMACH FLU vs. FLU
“Stomach flu” or acute gastroenteritis is different from “flu” or influenza.
Many viruses can cause the stomach flu. The current leading cause of stomach flu in the United States is a virus known as Norovirus. It is the most common cause of food borne illness. According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Norovirus causes:
- 21 million illnesses
- 70,000 hospitalizations
- 800 deaths each year.
Stomach flu is an infection that causes inflammation of the stomach and/or intestines. Norovirus is very contagious and spread by an infected person, contaminated food or water, or by touching contaminated surfaces. Norovirus can spread quickly in closed places like daycare centers, schools, long-term care facilities and cruise ships.
Symptoms of norovirus include fever, body aches, headaches, stomach pain, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Symptoms can become so severe that a person becomes dehydrated. This is especially common in children and the elderly.
The flu is a respiratory illness caused by the influenza virus. The infection involves the nose, throat and/or lungs. It is primarily transmitted from person to person by droplets from the infected person’s sneeze or cough.
Symptoms of flu include fever, chills, body aches, headaches, sore throat, runny nose, congestion and cough. Some people, especially children, can develop nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Major complications of the flu are dehydration and pneumonia.
For updates on the flu season you can follow Loyola’s Flu Central on Twitter @LoyolaFlu.