Respiratory illnesses on the rise

26 July 2017

Hawke’s Bay Hospital continues to remain extremely busy with an increase in admissions of people experiencing respiratory illnesses like asthma, pneumonia and bronchitis.

Chief Medical & Dental Officer – Hospital, Dr John Gommans, said cooler winter weather with people spending more time indoors together meant that infections were more easily spread to children and older people who were more susceptible to respiratory illness. He said it was important to seek medical help early before symptoms deteriorated requiring hospital care.

“We really want to encourage people if they are feeling sick to get to their family doctor or medical centre before their symptoms get worse. Early treatment, particularly in children and older people can help prevent the need for hospital care,” said Dr Gommans.

Dr Gommans said older people living on their own often found it hard to get to a doctor or attend to their other needs, so neighbours, family and friends could help by being aware and checking in on older people. “Even making sure they were eating and drinking well, made a big difference to not needing an Emergency Department visit or having to be admitted to hospital.”

It was also important, Dr Gommans said, to stay away from visiting vulnerable people at home or anyone in hospital if you were sick. “Patients in hospital are much more vulnerable to picking up other people’s bugs so we ask everyone not to visit if you are unwell.”

Taradale GP, and Chief Medical Officer-Primary Care, Mark Peterson said many General Practices had walk-in clinics for people without appointments and who needed to see a doctor that day. Accident and Medical Centres were also available and people could always phone the Practice Nurse at their Practice for advice about where they could be seen.

Healthline, 0800 611 116, was also available to help 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Dr Peterson said some simple tips to help people stay well this winter were to:

  • Have the flu vaccine. It’s not too late and the vaccine is available free for many people.
  • Stay away from work if you are unwell, and keep sick children at home to prevent winter bugs from spreading
  • Keep warm, keep well
  • Seek medical help early as cold temperatures can make some health problems like asthma get worse.
  • Keep hands regularly washed, especially if someone in your house is ill.

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