Dutch-speaking MeFites familiar with Belgium: who do I call and what's their number?
December 29, 2012 11:46 AM   Subscribe

I have two related questions: are my partner's symptoms worth a hospital visit? And if not, are there Dutch-speaking mefites who could help us find a family doctor open in Leuven, Belgium on Sunday?

My partner (Blasdelb) is sleeping at the moment, but he has a fever (to the touch) that came on suddenly this afternoon after he felt somewhat nauseous and achy. Two months ago we both caught a viral throat infection with runny nose and fever -- no signs of anything bacterial. His health insurance wasn't quite figured out yet so he simply waited it out. He was fine a couple days later. Last time when he got particularly dehydrated it spiked back up (briefly), but without the runny nose or other viral indicators. He definitely needs to see a doctor -- how urgently I'm not sure.

When he was last awake, he was lucid albeit a bit foggy, audibly regretting putting this doctor's visit off, his breath smelled like old people, and he was grudgingly ambulatory. I'm feeding him lots of fluids and he doesn't seem hungry for anything else.

My impression is that medical things here are such that you have to call your family doctor, even for potential emergencies, and those docs decide what you should do next. To my knowledge he doesn't have a doctor yet -- his health insurance is in some strange Belgian limbo where he's applied for it and his commercial health-insurance that he's also applied for through his employer needs to confirm his dates of employment before it's "official" (or something). His guess is that the holidays have further delayed the process. He's concerned about how payment will be dealt with in that limbo.

So: can you guys find a Belgian doctor who'd be appropriate for me to call now?

Can you guys find a doctor in Leuven I can call in the morning who is open this Sunday?

Do I need to prod him awake and call the local emergency number?
posted by Leucistic Cuttlefish to Health & Fitness (15 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Tbh it just sounds like the flu. Have you taken his temperature? If it isn't too high (I'm assuming you use metric and I don't know the conversion), then the biggest issue would be keeping him hydrated, which you're doing.
posted by DoubleLune at 11:54 AM on December 29, 2012

Let him sleep. Keep him hydrated and if he's uncomfortable give him paracetamol (acetaminophen). This is something that many people might not even see a doctor for in an Australian context. A fever is a good sign his body is working hard to get rid of an infection. If he's unable to drink/wee them you should worry.

If he deteriorates, see a doctor straight away, otherwise this can wait till Monday, and it's really only a gp thing at the moment.

Also: chicken soup.
posted by taff at 11:54 AM on December 29, 2012

If my partner had a fever that was only a few hours old, able to move and speak lucidly (not reciting shakespeare but answering basic questions in a grumpy way) I would not see the need for a doctor immediately, no; I would actually say that staying in bed and resting would do the most good in the long term. The fluids are more important than food, especially broth or other nutrient-rich fluids.

I know it is scary when loved ones get ill, but his body is doing its job in raising the temperature to burn off the infection/virus and using his resources for that fight rather than wasting them on being active.
posted by saucysault at 11:59 AM on December 29, 2012

IANAD, but it's high season for flu in Europe. Mr Bookish is currently cooped up in bed with the same symptoms. Let him rest, keep him hydrated and give him paracetamol to keep the temperature down. If you have access to a version of Lemsip (a citrus-flavoured hot drink with paracetamol and phenylephrine hydrochloride) that tends to work wonders on Mr Bookish. No need to panic right now.
posted by kariebookish at 12:00 PM on December 29, 2012

Yep, it's flu season. You can use both paracetamol and whatever your locally available NSAID is (here in the USA it's ibuprofen/Motrin). These help both with body aches and with fever.

Honestly, no matter where you're located, calling your family doctor for a "potential emergency" is usually a good idea. That's why they keep someone from the practice on call, to answer questions and help guide you when you're not sure what to do. If it were an obvious emergency, presumably the course of action would be clear.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 12:12 PM on December 29, 2012 [2 favorites]

p.s. I think when you say "viral indicators" what you really mean is symptoms of the common cold? There are plenty of viruses that don't cause a runny nose.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 12:14 PM on December 29, 2012

Response by poster: I'll note that the history of it is what concerns me, more than any immediate symptoms. Every time he's gotten dehydrated (e.g. drank more than two beers) it's come back. He told me that this is the same, just worse.

Even if this looks like the flu, I imagine he'll still want help finding a doctor by tomorrow, just in case it IS something like strep. The recurrent throat symptoms have been worrying him for awhile making this visit long overdue. He has to go back to work on the 2nd, so finding a doctor ASAP is important.
posted by Leucistic Cuttlefish at 12:15 PM on December 29, 2012

Best answer: You won't be able to find a GP tomorrow, but you will be able to contact one in case it seems like an emergency by then.
Here's a number in Leuven you can call for medical emergencies during the night and weekends. Just keep it on hand.

070 25 70 25

I found it here: http://www.leuven.be/leven/gezondheid/

A commonly found Lemsip-like product is called Citrosan.
posted by Too-Ticky at 12:26 PM on December 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: The number to reach the network of on-call doctors in Leuven is: 070/25.70.25. They'll come out for a housecall, or you can visit them (after calling first) at Residentie Dijlemolens, Zwarte Zustersstraat 16/1, 3000 Leuven. If you need to find an open pharmacy, you can call 0900/10.500 (50 cents a minute) or check on http://www.apotheek.be.

As far as health-insurance limbo is concerned, the worst-case scenario is that you pay the doctor full price for the consultation but might not get anything back like you normally would if you've got insurance coverage. A regular, non-weekend visit at the office costs something like €25 these days, housecalls and weekend/evenings cost a bit more.
posted by eendje at 12:31 PM on December 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I'm not sure that I understand. He has had an on-again-off-again fever for two months following a short, cold-like illness?

If that's what you're describing, then you're correct, he does need to see a doctor. (People who were saying otherwise above probably didn't interpret what you were saying in the same way as this.) If he doesn't have other health problems, doesn't have trouble breathing, doesn't have a crazy high temp (like 39.5 C), is decently hydrated, then it's not an emergency, not urgent.

I'm sorry that I'm no help with the Dutch thing, but I wanted to point out that it many countries, this is the sort of problem that you'd deal with by seeing a pharmacist/chemist/whatever-the-Dutch-word is. They'd listen to you and recommend an antibiotic regimen. If you haven't already, it's worth asking a pharmacist, because maybe that's how things work there; and if not, maybe a pharmacist could point you in the right direction.

This, btw, sounds a lot like pneumonia following an upper respiratory infection, which is not uncommon, and the way to treat that is:

a) antibiotics
b) NSAIDS (advil, tylenol/paracetamol)
c) stay as active as possible, even though it may hurt
d) cough and breathe deeply as often as possible, even though it may hurt
e) get enough water

In the absence of a), the other things are still good, and people without antibiotics still, usually, get better rather than worse.

All this is in the assumption that he doesn't have any symptoms you haven't mentioned, or any significant health problems. Anything unmentioned could push it into the "urgent, don't settle for a chemist" category.
posted by nathan v at 12:37 PM on December 29, 2012

By "fever to the touch," do you mean you haven't actually taken his temperature with an accurate thermometer? Because you can't really say he has a fever unless you do that. That would be my first order of business--accurate diagnostics.
posted by jesourie at 12:52 PM on December 29, 2012

Response by poster: He woke up briefly and confirmed that, YES, he has had a fever three times over the course of two months. He was pretty surly about the thought of getting the flu three times in a row.

I bugged him about other symptoms he's had -- fever, swelling throat, very low but productive cough (no sputum or snot), headache and general aching, nausea, no appetite -- each time the evening after a night of drinking, three times over the past two months.
posted by Leucistic Cuttlefish at 12:59 PM on December 29, 2012

If these symptoms have only lasted for the day after drinking, could it be an allergy to what he's drinking, or perhaps what he eats when he's drinking? My sister, allergic to various foods and asthmatic as a child but healthy after adolescence became severely allergic to soy, hops and other plant-based products in her fifties.

I'm not saying he doesn't have the flu, but if the only time his symptoms occur is when he's had alcohol, it could be a reaction and not germs, per se. I hope he feels better. Good luck.
posted by The Wrong Kind of Cheese at 1:55 PM on December 29, 2012

Alcohol suppresses your immune system. If he has some kind of subclinical chronic thing hanging around that's what's bringing it out. So probably worth seeing a dr about when they open again but not actually weird or scary.
posted by shelleycat at 2:58 PM on December 29, 2012

Hey guys, I went to see the doctor on watch for the city this morning and they figured that I might have a weird allergy, though that didn't really make sense, but probably had a chronic sinus infection (In the middle of the night I hacked up some clumpy fleshy phlegm from my sinuses, and my nose started running this morning). If its one of those nose steroids are about the best that could be done anyhow so I got myself a prescription.
posted by Blasdelb at 6:25 AM on December 30, 2012 [2 favorites]

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