Should you use telemedicine if you have the flu?

Posted at 3:10 PM, Feb 06, 2018
and last updated 2018-02-07 13:08:45-05

As the flu epidemic continues to grow, doctor's offices are seeing increasing numbers of sick people. While medical staff have implemented policies and procedures to prevent the spread of the influenza virus within offices areas, the reality remains that influenza germs can live on surfaces, like doorknobs, for up to 24 hours.

Is there a way to avoid going to a doctor's office if you think you have the flu?

Thanks to technology advancements in recent years, especially with cell phone cameras, doctors are able to use video connections to diagnose and treat some conditions.  Several companies offer telemedicine applications such as Teladoc, Dr. on Demand, and MDLive.

However, it is important to know that telemedicine is not set up to handle serious or life-threatening situations.

So, how much should you rely on telemedicine for a flu diagnosis?

7 Eyewitness News Reporter Ed Reilly talked with several medical experts who said telemedicine can provide guidance to people who either cannot access their own doctor or do not have a primary care doctor.

The problem is people usually do not die directly from influenza, said Dr. Terence O'Connor at the O'Connor Medical Group.  Rather, it is often complications like pneumonia that result from the flu that can only be diagnosed in person.

You can hear more from area doctors in the attached videos.