Dealing with common health problems during the Holidays

Every year during the holidays, Montreal hospitals face higher-than-normal patient volumes in emergency rooms.

Every year during the holidays, Montreal hospitals face higher-than-normal patient volumes in emergency rooms. The holidays are a time for all sorts of gatherings and get-togethers, and while they are the highlight of the season they can also bring people into contact with more viruses which lead to higher numbers of both the seasonal flu and stomach flu by the end of December.  

waiting roomAvoid visiting an Emergency Room for a non-urgent health problem

Many children and adults who go to Montreal emergency rooms during the holidays complain of mild flu symptoms, gastroenteritis and fever. The increased number of people seeking help not only furthers the spread of these highly contagious viruses but also puts extreme pressure on emergency departments, which in turn increases wait times for these non-urgent cases. As a result, patients who are triaged as non-urgent will have to wait much longer than usual before seeing a doctor.  

The best treatment for these symptoms is to stay at home and get plenty of rest and fluids. Antibiotics have no effect against a viral illness like the flu or gastroenteritis. Antibiotics are medications that fight infections caused by bacteria, while the seasonal and stomach flu are caused by viruses. 

If you or a loved one develops symptoms of the flu, gastroenteritis or a fever:

First call Info-Santé at 8-1-1 to ask about your or your family member’s symptoms and find out how severe they are. Info-Santé nurses are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to give you health advice and tell you when you should see a doctor or other health professional.

Should a consultation with a doctor be necessary, head to a network clinic. About thirty network clinics are available on the island of Montreal. They are open every day of the year, even holidays (12 hours during week days and 8 hours on weekends and holidays). These clinics offer quick access to X-ray services and blood tests or other tests.

Should you be in an emergency situation, don't hesitate to go to an emergency room, while keeping in mind that the most urgent cases will be treated first.


fluCare at home for the flu and gastroenteritis

Typical flu symptoms such as mild to moderate fever, sore throat, muscle aches and pains, as well as coughing and sneezing can often be treated at home with plenty of fluids and lots of rest.

The same can be said for gastroenteritis: viral gastroenteritis is thoroughly unpleasant and can be alarming when your or a family member is suffering miserably, but the key to recovery is staying well hydrated. Make sure to drink plenty of fluids, and if vomiting is frequent, introduce small amounts of fluids at a time on a frequent basis. This is especially important with younger children and infants. With adequate hydration, gastroenteritis usually resolves itself over a few days. Gastroenteritis is rarely dangerous and if you want a fighting chance against it, remember to wash your hands often! 


Stay home if you are sick

If you have symptoms of the seasonal flu or stomach flu, avoid spreading the virus by staying home until your symptoms have cleared up for at least 24 hours. 

It’s especially important to avoid visiting babies, elderly individuals or people who are sick or hospitalized when you have symptoms of gastroenteritis or the flu. Because of their weakened immune systems, people in these more vulnerable population groups can risk developing serious complications from these viruses. 


How to find more information if you need it

If you have more questions or concerns about where to seek care over the holidays, visit the following websites: