The flu and the common cold share many traits, but they’re caused by different viruses. Generally speaking, the flu is more serious, but almost all symptoms overlap.
Because they share so many symptoms, getting tested is the best way to determine what you’re suffering from.
Colds usually go away on their own. However, the flu can lead to serious complications in people with poor immune function. These complications include pneumonia and inflammation of the heart and brain. In rare cases, it can lead to death.
Although flu complications are rare, our experts at Bethel Family Medicine want you to be aware of when it may be a good idea to seek medical help.
Who may need to seek medical help right away?
Certain segments of the population are at risk and may need to get tested for the flu immediately, even if their symptoms are not yet severe. These include the following:
- Cancer survivors who’ve undergone chemotherapy
- Transplant recipients who take immuno-suppressants to prevent the rejection of their organs
- Adults above the age of 50 and children under the age of two
- Suffers of chronic conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, and kidney disease
- Patients who’ve taken aspirin and steroids for long periods
The flu is the ninth cause of death in the United States. If you or a loved one is at risk, testing for the flu and following a personalized treatment can be life-saving.
What symptoms should prompt a medical visit?
The flu can also cause complications in people who otherwise aren’t considered high-risk. Symptoms that should prompt a medical visit include the following:
- Difficulty breathing
- Cough followed by mucus
- Cough followed by pain in the lung area
- Severe fatigue
- High fever
Adults should see a specialist if their symptoms don’t improve after two weeks.
In small children, discomfort can lead to irritability. If your child is experiencing symptoms, doesn’t want to be held, and cries a lot, they may be in pain and may need medical help.
Getting help for your flu
If you suspect that you or a loved one has the flu, get peace of mind by contacting us to schedule an appointment.
You’ll receive an antiviral medication that will shorten the duration of the condition and medications to strengthen the immune system and decrease discomfort. If a secondary infection, such as an ear infection or bronchitis, is present, our doctor may prescribe an antibiotic.