GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Some local physicians are urging people do what they can to stay healthy during this cold blast. Garden Park Medical Center officials say since January first. The emergency staff has treated ten percent more patients than in the same time last year.
Doctors talked about the kinds of illnesses people tend to come down with and what are the signs it's time to seek medical treatment.
Dr. Luis Camero is the director of the emergency department.
"We're seeing lots of runny noses, upper respiratory infections. lots of coughing. some fevers, bronchitis and pneumonia," Dr. Camero said.
Doctors say most cold related illnesses can be treated at home with over the counter medications, but people need to regularly check their temperatures to make sure they're not suffering from something more serious.
"The red flags to look out for would be high fevers," said Dr. Camero. "Our immune system kicks in and we want it to bring things up out of our lung systems. People will notice different color sputum. Those are very important issues to be looking out for because it may require a physician to examine the lungs, may require a chest x-ray, may require antibiotic and even admission into the hospital. "
To avoid a hospital stay, doctors recommend people eat right, bundle up, and get all the necessary vaccinations.
Dr. Camero said, "One of my own personal theories is that the immune system gets stressed. Cold weather really just takes it out of you. You don't feel as energetic. You don't feel as healthy sometimes due to the cold weather. You don't feel yourself. "
Doctors say until the weather warms up, family, friends, and neighbors need keep watch on the vulnerable.
"Elderly folks and very young folks are going to succumb to the severe changes in the weather," said Dr. Camero. "If we don't catch the signs early those folks can get sicker quicker."
Gulf Park Medical Center officials say despite the increase in emergency visits, the staff has managed to keep the average wait to less than half an hour.