Flu season is a busy time for medical professionals. In addition to the flu, there are also an increased number of serious colds and stomach viruses that spread from one person to another. For adults, children and the aging community alike, it’s common for patients to be confused about when they should consider seeking medical attention for flu symptoms.
Typical flu-like symptoms include fever, body aches, chills, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, nausea or vomiting. These are all typical symptoms that will subside as your body fights the virus. It’s not uncommon for only a few symptoms to be present, and some people experience more mild symptoms than others.
You should only seek medical attention for yourself or a loved one if you begin exhibiting more serious symptoms. Emergency warning signs include fast breathing, blue or gray skin, persistent vomiting, excessive drowsiness or confusion, dizziness, or severe symptoms that linger for more than a few days. You should also call your doctor if the flu-like symptoms improve, but then return with a fever and cough. Otherwise, it’s best to stay home and avoid contact with others to prevent the spread of disease. (I promise, your co-workers or children’s teachers will thank you.)
If you feel that symptoms warrant emergency medical care, it’s best to visit your local urgent care facility. If symptoms are very severe or worsen quickly, an emergency room may be a better option.
Some patients need to be more cautious than others. Infants and the elderly are at a higher risk of flu complications than healthy adults, so they will be more likely to require medical attention for their flu symptoms. The same is true for anyone with a compromised immune system. For example, a patient who is currently undergoing chemotherapy should call their doctor immediately if they begin exhibiting flu-like symptoms.
These high-risk populations are also the reason everyone who is able to receive a flu vaccination should get one. There are rare exceptions, but most people over the age of 6 months can be vaccinated. Vaccinations can help minimize spreading the disease to high-risk populations, especially those who can’t be vaccinated due to age or their immune system.
Even if you have a busy schedule or fear of needles, it’s best for both you and your loved ones if you receive your flu vaccine. Even if you do contract the flu during flu season, it will be shorter and less severe because your body has already been prepared for this year’s most popular strains. Remember, having a mild body aches after receiving the vaccine is normal, and it doesn’t mean you’ve contracted the flu from the vaccine.