You've got a fever, sore throat and a bad cough. You suspect it may be the flu. How do you know if you should go to the doctor?
When to go see a doctor for the flu
If antiviral medication is started in the first one or two days of influenza infection, it can significantly decrease the severity and length of illness. If you suspect you have the flu, and are interested in decreasing your symptoms, contact your doctor’s office immediately. Common symptoms include fever, chills, body aches and cough.
“Please keep in mind that anyone can get the flu,” says Dr. Victoria Walker, vice president of medical services and quality for the Good Samaritan Society. “But young children and those over the age of 65 are at higher risk of serious complications from the flu.”
It goes without saying that whether you have influenza or another medical condition, you should seek immediate medical attention if you or a loved one is experiencing difficulty breathing, chest pain, dizziness/lightheadedness or severe vomiting.
If you have had the flu and your fever returns after you had started feeling better, you should see your doctor. This can be a sign of serious complications from the flu, which can be life threatening.
If your child has symptoms such as bluish lips or skin, limpness, excessive sleepiness, or has a high fever with a rash, you should seek medical attention for them right away.
Small children; people with asthma, diabetes or other chronic conditions; those over 65; and women who are pregnant are more vulnerable to developing serious and life-threatening complications from influenza. It is particularly important for them to seek treatment right away.” – Dr. Victoria Walker, vice president of medical services and quality for the Good Samaritan Society
Recent studies have shown that adults are six to 10 times more likely to suffer a heart attack in the first three to seven days after being diagnosed with influenza, and those with diabetes are three times more likely to be hospitalized.
What are the warning signs of flu sickness?
- Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
- Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
- Sudden dizziness
- Severe or persistent vomiting
- Flu-like symptoms that improve but then return with fever and a worse cough
- Fast breathing or trouble breathing
- Bluish skin color
- Not drinking enough fluids
- Not waking up or not interacting
- Being so irritable that the child does not want to be held
- Inconsolable crying
- Flu symptoms that improve but then return with fever and worse cough
- Fever with a rash
In addition to the signs above, get medical help right away for any infant who has any of these signs:
- The inability to eat
- Trouble breathing
- No tears when crying
- Significantly fewer wet diapers than normal