Flu: Symptoms, Complications, and When to Seek Treatment

Do I have a cold or the flu? That’s a question medical professionals hear frequently because symptoms are so similar.

The main difference between a cold and the flu is that colds generally come on slowly, while the flu comes on suddenly and quickly. Common flu symptoms include:

  • chills
  • dry cough
  • feeling tired and weak
  • fever
  • intense headache
  • muscle aches
  • sore throat

Most cases of the flu are mild and will resolve on their own in two weeks or less. A seasonal flu shot is the most effective way to prevent the flu. Everyone older than 6 months should receive a flu shot every year. If you need one, visit The Emergency Center nearest you.

24-Hour Emergency Care for Flu

Patients who come to The Emergency Center with concerning flu symptoms will receive a prompt assessment by one of our board-certified emergency medical physicians. If your symptoms are serious, you will be stabilized and our providers will closely monitor your health for up to 23 hours. Our location features diagnostic imaging, an on-site pharmacy where we can provide up to three days worth of prescriptions, on-site labs, and imaging.

The Emergency Center prescribes Tamiflu and Xofluza for patients with the flu. 

At High-Risk for Flu Complications

Adults age 65 and older, pregnant women, and children younger than age 5 are considered at high-risk for flu-related complications. Others at high risk include people with:

  • chronic respiratory and lung diseases, such as asthma
  • diabetes
  • heart, kidney, or liver disease
  • intellectual and developmental disability
  • neurological disorders
  • severe obesity

Signs Your Flu Needs Emergency Care

Flu complications can range from mild—sinus and ear infections—to severe—pneumonia, cardiac inflammation, sepsis, and organ failure. Because the flu can lead to life-threatening complications, it is imperative for people in high-risk groups to seek emergency care when flu symptoms become serious.

Never question the severity of your symptoms. Visit The Emergency Center if you or a loved one experiences:

  • chest or stomach pain
  • confusion
  • difficulty breathing
  • dizziness
  • serious or frequent vomiting
  • worsening fever or cough

In children and infants, seek emergency care with:

  • fever greater than 102.2ËšF in children younger than age 3
  • fever accompanied by a rash
  • refusal to eat or drink
  • severe irritability
  • skin that takes on a blue tinge

If your condition is mild enough be treated at an urgent care, we’ll help you find one or offer an affordable self-pay rate for any services you may need. We offer transparent pricing and never send surprise bills.

1. https://www.aafp.org/afp/2004/0115/p383.html
2. https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/disease/high_risk.htm
3. https://www.cdc.gov/flu/consumer/symptoms.htm