Common flu symptoms.
It can be difficult to tell the flu from a cold or even a food-borne illness such as Cyclospora. Common flu symptoms include:
- Fever (this is often the best indicator of flu versus a cold or stomach bug)
- Aches and pains
- Headache and fatigue
Who should get a flu shot?
The CDC says that everyone 6 months and older should get a flu shot. The influenza vaccination is especially important for people who are at higher risk for flu complications, including pregnant women, babies and seniors. A recent CDC study found that the flu vaccine cut the risk of hospitalization by more than half in people 65 and older.
"Flu shots are recommended in every trimester unless you have an allergy to the vaccine," she said. "Flu in pregnancy can be very life-threatening and can lead to pneumonia, meningitis, brain abnormalities and respiratory problems. That's why we recommend the flu shot for all pregnant patients."
When to go to the ER with flu.
If you feel like you have flu-like symptoms, Manisha Gupta, MD, an emergency medicine physician at Medical City Denton, says it's important to go to the ER if you're part of a high-risk population, including:
- People with a compromised immune system
- Infants and young children
- Elderly adults
- People with other chronic health conditions such as COPD or heart disease
Hani Khair, MD, medical director of epidemiology and chief epidemiologist at Medical City Denton, said that public health officials are urging doctors and patients to treat suspected cases of flu as such even if a quick-test isn't conclusive. Once a person comes down with the flu, the only way to take the edge off is with Tamiflu, a prescription medicine. The medicine isn't for everyone (and most people don't need it) but can help people with chronic medical conditions, Dr. Khair said.
Other reasons to visit an ER with flu-like symptoms, according to Dr. Khair, is if the sick person also displays:
- Dizziness and disorientation
- Chest pains
- Trouble breathing
- Excessive vomiting (can't keep liquids down and may become dehydrated)
Also, if the person appears to be getting better and suddenly relapses with a fever or other symptoms, they should come to the hospital because complications may have developed, Dr. Khair said.
Possible complications of flu.
For some people, a simple case of the flu is not so simple. Complications of flu can include:
- Inflammation of the
- Heart (myocarditis)
- Brain (encephalitis)
- Muscle tissues (myositis, rhabdomyolysis)
- Multi-organ failure
- Worsening of existing conditions, such as asthma or chronic heart disease
Dr. Charles Phillips, MD, medical director of the emergency department at Medical City Arlington, explains how to recognize symptoms of pneumonia and who is most at risk for this dangerous illness.
The flu shot is still your best bet at flu prevention.
According to Nathan Holbrook, DO, an emergency medicine physician at Medical City Arlington, the flu shot is still the best preventive measure against getting ill. "The CDC estimates that the flu vaccine prevents 5 million cases of flu a year," he said.
Flu shots are available at more than 40 CareNow Urgent Care locations across DFW.
Other prevention tips include washing hands and staying away from sick people, if possible.
If you are sick, Dr. Khair suggests you need to stay home, rest and try not to infect others. Watch the video below to learn the correct ways to cough and sneeze so you won't spread your germs.
At Medical City Healthcare, we're dedicated to the care and improvement of human life. So, we hope you'll Take Care!
Medical City Healthcare provides comprehensive emergency services across North Texas.
You can also get care for minor injuries or illness at one of the many DFW CareNow® Urgent Care locations, with convenient Web Check-In® so you can wait in the comfort of your home.