NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Children’s hospitals and pediatric offices across North Texas are inundated with sick kids right now. The extreme number of patients has often resulted in longer wait times.

A variety of bugs are making their way through the region right now, including respiratory viruses and the first wave of the flu.

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“Cold and flu season has started in North Texas already,” said Dr. Matthew Simon with Park Cities Pediatrics.

Dr. Simon said the sharp uptick in flu cases this early could mean this year’s flu season will be severe.

Emergency rooms are overwhelmed with these illnesses right now. 507 pediatric patients visited Cook Children’s Medical Center in Fort Worth yesterday, which is a 70 percent increase from a typical day. Children’s Health in Dallas and in Plano saw 152 flu cases and 148 RSV cases total from Nov. 10-16.

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According to Dr. Simon, common symptoms of both respiratory viruses and the flu are cough, congestion, runny nose, and fever. He advises parents to keep a close eye on whether their child is dehydrated or having trouble breathing.

“If the child is not smiling, crying, eating, moving – if they’re just laying very still and breathing hard, that’s the sign of very severe breathing difficulty and that needs to be evaluated at the emergency room,” he said.

Otherwise, it’s best to talk to your pediatrician before heading to the ER. If it’s not a true emergency, you could be stuck waiting for hours.

“Most of these illnesses will get better on their own, with rest and fluids,” Dr. Simon said. “Being viral illnesses, there’s often not a lot we can do for them.”

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If your child is showing signs of severe illness, they need to stay home from daycare or from school to help prevent the virus from spreading.