Experts: The one flu symptom you shouldn’t ignore

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – It seems to be the one symptom people are ignoring during this dangerous and deadly flu season, according to experts.

At first, patients think it’s nothing, then they find out otherwise.

Since it doesn’t seem like a typical flu feeling, it’s brushed off and not always treated.

What is the symptom so often ignored?

A headache.

People in emergency rooms and doctor’s offices all over the country are reporting severe headaches as the onset of the flu, not realizing they have the virus.

“Not all the symptoms are going to [be] present at the same time,” said one Pinellas County physician.

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Dr. Greg Baker has been practicing medicine for 16 years and admits he’s never seen a flu reason quite like this. He treats patients at his family practice, East Lake Primary Care, in Palm Harbor.

Dr. Baker tells News Channel 8 this flu is sometimes slow to reveal itself. When the patient begins to feel sick, the symptoms often show up one at a time, which can be confusing.

Some people end up blowing off the signs of illness, convincing themselves that because they do not feel all the symptoms at once – it means they must not be sick.

Nothing could be farther from the truth, says Dr. Baker.

Many people may start off with a crushing headache and dismiss it.

Then, painful body aches and a raging fever follow within 24 hours.

“What we’re seeing now, it’s very common,” said Dr. Baker.

The bottom line is the flu is now everywhere. If you don’t feel right, you’d be wrong to ignore any symptoms.

“Chances are, more likely than not, they’ve been exposed. So, they’re probably feeling some of the symptoms of the virus,” Dr. Baker maintains. “Don’t wait. Go get checked out.”

Incidentally, the flu season isn’t weakening in Florida. It’s only growing stronger and will continue to do so, according to this longtime physician.

“The flu began hitting people back in November and December on the east coast and the west coast, then the midwest, and now we are seeing it spread to Florida. We are the last to the scene. Last, but not forgotten,” he explained. “Sadly, it’s only going to get worse. People keep visiting Florida, some just for the winter, others on vacation.”

“We will most likely see a spike again,” he added. “With spring break coming up in the next few months, more people will be visiting, and they will be bringing with them the virus from other places. This is far from over.”

A representative from Florida Hospital in Tampa tells us that in the last month alone, flu cases have quadrupled.

Well over 200 cases at Florida Hospital alone were reported the last week of January.

With a merciless flu season that doesn’t seem to be lessening as time goes on, experts offer two pieces of crucial advice.

One: don’t ignore any overwhelming symptom. With the amount of flu cases raging all over the country and in the Tampa Bay area, keep in mind that the symptoms are often singular and slow to present themselves.

Two: wash your hands every chance you get.

“Soap and water really is the best defense,” said Dr. Baker. “We say it all the time because it’s true. It’s what I tell all my patients.”

The average human being, according to experts, touches his or her own face three times every 60 seconds, which is exactly the way people spread the virus.

“Again, keep your hands as clean as possible,” Dr. Baker told us. “And please, go see a doctor if you’re not feeling well. What we don’t want to see happen is a person go for an entire week being sick, spreading the virus to countless others. By then, it may be too late for them, or for someone else.”

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