Should I Visit the ER or Urgent Care for Flu Treatments?

Should I Visit the ER or Urgent Care for Flu Treatments?

February 1, 2023

Many people complain about flu and other respiratory conditions during cold seasons. Flu or influenza is a common contagious respiratory virus. The prevalence of flu changes from season to season. Since the virus spreads through respiratory droplets, the more cases in your community, the more likely you will be infected.

Symptoms of Flu

Signs and symptoms of flu often overlap with other respiratory conditions like Covid-19 and colds. These can include:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Headaches
  • Runny nose or congestion
  • Fatigue
  • Upset stomach

Usually, the flu symptoms appear 1 – 4 days after exposure to the virus. Many people feel better after 7 – 10 days. It comes more rapidly, unlike Covid-19 and common colds. Since their symptoms overlap, it may be difficult to tell what condition you have without a test.

Flu Risk Factors

While everyone is at risk of getting the flu, certain factors and populations can increase your risk of developing serious symptoms or complications. These include:

  • Pregnant women
  • Adults aged over 65
  • Children under six months
  • People with pre-existing health conditions like:
    • Diabetes
    • Cancer
    • HIV/AIDs
    • Heart disease and stroke
    • Neurological conditions
    • Asthma
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When to Visit the ER for Flu Symptoms

Adults and children exhibiting serious symptoms should go to the ER, even if they don’t fall in the high-risk category. These can include:

Adults

  • Shortness of breath
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Pressure or pain in the chest or abdomen
  • Sudden dizziness
  • Frequent dizzy spells
  • Confusion
  • Seizures
  • Flu-like symptoms that appear to improve but then return
  • Severe or persistent vomiting
  • Inability to arouse
  • Severe muscle pain
  • Dehydration
  • Severe irritability
  • Severe unsteadiness or weakness
  • Worsening chronic medical conditions

Children

While it may be challenging to pinpoint flu symptoms among infants and children who have not yet begun speaking, below are common symptoms to watch out for:

  • Fast or troubled breathing
  • High fever, sometimes accompanied by a rash
  • Extreme irritability
  • Not feeding
  • Lack of tears when crying
  • Fewer wet diapers than usual
  • Flu-like symptoms that improve and then return with a fever or cough
  • Lips or skin with a bluish tint
  • Chest pain
  • Ribs pulling in when breathing
  • Severe muscle pain
  • Dehydration
  • Lethargic (less alert of interacting)
  • Fever for babies below 12 weeks
  • Seizures
  • Worsening chronic medical conditions

Even if you don’t have these symptoms but still need to see a doctor, you can also seek urgent medical care near you.

Most people recover from flu with at-home cars after a few days to a week. In rare cases, flu can cause mild to severe complications like:

  • Sinus or ear infection
  • Sepsis
  • Pneumonia
  • Myocarditis (inflammation of the muscles of the heart)
  • Myositis or rhabdomyolysis (the inflammation of the muscle tissue)
  • Encephalitis (inflammation of the brain)
  • Multi-organ failure
  • Aggravation of chronic medical problems like heart disease and asthma

Where to Go for Emergency Care for the Flu

You should begin by calling your doctor if you experience severe or worrying symptoms like the ones we’ve highlighted above.

Your doctor can help you manage the symptoms or direct you to an emergency facility for urgent care. If you can’t reach your doctor, visit an ER near you or call 911 for help.

How to Manage the Flu

If you have flu, you must avoid contact with others for about 5 – 7 days as the virus is highly contiguous. When recovering, avoid strenuous activities and take plenty of rest. You can contact your doctor about medications you can take to manage your symptoms. Also, keep hydrated by taking warm fluids.

How to Prevent Flu

The best action is to prevent the flu before it develops. Below are several tips that can help reduce your risk of developing the flu:

  • Get vaccinated for the flu. Getting a flu shot at the start of a flu season can help prevent the flu.
  • Be vigilant about hand washing. Washing hands with water and soap for 20 – 30 seconds after using shared facilities can help prevent flu. A hand sanitizer can be helpful until you get access to water and soap.
  • Stay at home. If infected, stay at home to avoid spreading the virus to others. When going out, consider wearing a respiratory mask.

Are You Looking for an Emergency Room in Cypress, TX?

Do you or your loved one have serious or warning flu signs? Call or visit Fairfield Emergency Room for 24-hour emergency care.