Should I See a Doctor for the Flu?

Is this “just the flu” or is there more to it?

With the change of seasons from summer to fall, an additional season arrives at the same time – the flu season. Most of you have had a bout of the flu at some point in your life and are familiar with its usual symptoms. These may include fever, sore throat, cough, runny nose, body aches or fatigue. The illness usually runs its course in a few days after which you start to feel better. However, for certain groups of people, this may not always be the case.

Who is most at risk?

Although most people have no problems, there are some who might have a greater risk of developing serious complications from the flu. These include:

  • Children younger than five years of age, particularly those under two years of age
  • Those younger than 19 years of age on long-term aspirin therapy
  • Adults who are 65 years of age or older
  • Residents of long-term facilities and nursing homes
  • Pregnant women
  • Alaskan Natives and American Indians
  • Those with chronic conditions such as asthma, chronic lung disease, heart disease, metabolic disorders, blood disorders, diabetes, kidney or liver disease
  • Those with a weakened immune system
  • Those with a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or higher
  • The CDC has reported that nearly 90 percent of the deaths each year that are related to the flu occur in people 65 years old or older.

When are flu symptoms serious enough to see a doctor?

Although the above groups have an increased risk of serious complications from the flu, anyone who has the following symptoms should visit a doctor, or if necessary, an emergency room. These symptoms include:

• Shortness of breath or painful breathing
• Inability to keep fluids down and dehydration (especially in children)
• The presence of blood in phlegm when coughing
• Weakness when trying to stand
• Slurred speech or confusion
• Worsening fever or fever that does not go down with medications
• Seizures

Flu Prevention

The best defense against the flu and any of its possible complications is a yearly flu vaccination. Everyone 6 months of age and older should receive a vaccination every year, especially those in a high-risk group. You need to repeat it every year because the immune response from the flu vaccine weakens over time. In addition, the flu viruses mutate from year to year, and the vaccine must be updated to be effective against the changing flu viruses.

If, despite receiving the flu vaccine, you contract the flu, your doctor can prescribe an antiviral medication to help lessen the effects of the illness. This is especially important for those at risk of complications from the flu.

Although most of us look at the flu as an inevitable part of the winter season, the fact that it can become life-threatening should be a reason for everyone to take it seriously. A yearly flu vaccination should be on everyone’s calendar as fall leads us into winter.

At the first sign of complications of the flu, contact a health professional

If you think that you have more than “just the flu”, stop by Integra Urgent Care. Our professionals will insure that you receive the care you need to prevent serious problems from this year’s strain of influenza. Visit on of our DFW Locations.

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