Doctors see uptick in non-flu respiratory illnesses

CHICAGO (WLS) -- If your workplace is anything like ours you may be surrounded by people hacking, sniffling and sneezing, but they may not have a cold or the flu. Instead, it may be a condition that's kept doctors especially busy.

As winter sets in and temperatures drop, pretty soon everyone seems to be sick.

"It's not atypical for this time of year. As it gets colder people get more congregated together, they have more exposures, you have more dryness," said Dr. Susan Bleasdale, an infectious disease expert at University of Illinois Chicago Hospital.

But is that uptick out of the ordinary or is it just the usual bout of coughing and sneezing common during the winter season?

"We're seeing more upper respiratory cold and cough rather than the flu. We are seeing symptoms that look like they might be the flu and we're doing more tests, but we're not finding the flu," Dr. Bleasdale said.

According to the Chicago Department of Public Health, since Oct. 2 there have only been four flu-related hospitalizations, a bit lower than 2015. However, ER visits attributed to influenza-like symptoms for the week ending Dec. 2 are higher than 2015, at 4.4 percent.

But while it's never fun to be sick, most people recognize there's not much to be done about it other than the usual common sense precautions.

"I keep hand sanitizer with me. That's the one thing I do," said Jinu Dabu.

"I'm just keeping healthy some way or another," said Roberta Decker.
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