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Self-care, Doctor’s Office or Emergency Department – How Urgent it This?

Self-care, Doctor’s Office or Emergency Department – How Urgent it This?

Like this time last year, you may have heard the term “tridemic” popping up in the news. Maybe you or someone you know has been sick lately. Flu numbers are up this season and combined with increasing cases of COVID-19 and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), hospitals around the country are already feeling the impact. Dr. Kadeer Halimi, medical director of the Emergency Department at Washington Hospital, provided some advice on steps to take (and when to be concerned) if you or a loved one is sick with a virus.

“We are seeing a whole host of viruses in the Emergency Department that cause upper respiratory infections including COVID-19, RSV, influenza A, enterovirus, and metapneumovirus–most of which can be treated at home with supportive care like maintaining proper hydration, fever control, rest, and over-the-counter flu and cold medications,” noted Dr. Halimi. “Your first line of care should always be your primary care physician. If they are not available and you feel you or your family member requires immediate medical help, go to your nearest urgent care center, emergency department, or call 911.”

Typical symptoms of upper respiratory infections caused by these rampant viruses include fever, aching muscles, chills and sweats, headache, cough, fatigue, weakness, and a runny or stuffy nose. COVID-19 symptoms may also include sore throat, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and new loss of taste or smell. Additional symptoms of RSV can also show up as decreased appetite, sneezing and wheezing.

Your first line of defense against contracting a virus is protecting yourself like you did during the COVID-19 pandemic. Get vaccinated and boosted against COVID and the flu, wear a face mask when you go out or are in groups of people, wash your hands often, try to keep your hands away from your face, and stay home if you are not feeling well or are coughing or sneezing. Respiratory viruses are highly contagious and can be dangerous when spread to people who are older or immunosuppressed.

When to Seek Help If You Are Sick

If you or a loved one becomes ill, contact your primary care physician’s office and ask about an appointment. They may suggest a telehealth appointment instead of an in-person visit. Your physician knows your health history and will conduct a screening by discussing the symptoms. In most cases, they will advise you on how to treat your symptoms and wait out the virus at home. For those who are especially vulnerable: very young, older, or with other health conditions, your doctor will likely advise you to contact them if you’re not getting better. If your doctor is not available and you or a family member’s situation continues to worsen, seek medical attention immediately.

“I always tell my patients they know their body or their child better than anyone,” said Dr. Halimi. “If you feel like you’ve tried everything and you or your child continues to get worse, then it is time to come in. This may mean you’re having difficulty breathing; are not able to stay hydrated; become confused; have comorbidities like diabetes, COPD, or asthma; or can’t control a fever and symptoms with acetaminophen or ibuprofen.”

In summary Dr. Halimi emphasized, “We are happy to see all patients at any stage of disease at Washington Hospital’s Emergency Department, but we recommend they try to seek care with their primary care doctor first before coming here or to any emergency department.”

To schedule a same-day, nonemergency appointment at one of Washington Hospital’s community clinics, call 510.248.8201 Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. In cases of emergency, the Washington Hospital Emergency Department located at 2000 Mowry Ave. in Fremont is open 24 hours a day, every day of the year. For more information, go to