The holiday season may be officially over, but that doesn’t mean flu and cold season is, too.
Over the next few weeks, thousands of people will visit physicians and emergency rooms for influenza related symptoms. That means you’re still susceptible to catching this illness and you should be taking the necessary steps to protect yourself. Hear from one of our own physicians, Dr. Israel Tellez-Flores, as he answers common questions about the flu.
Q: The flu is like the cold, so it’s not deadly, right?
A: While the vast majority of flu cases don’t result in death, if symptoms are ignored, there can be serious, life-threatening complications. This is especially true for children, senior adults, pregnant women and anyone with compromised immune systems.
Q: If I think my child has the flu, what symptoms should I be watching for to know when to take them to an ER?
A: It can be difficult to know when exactly your child needs immediate medical intervention, so we encourage parents to always play it safe rather than risk your child’s health. Look for the following symptoms.
- High fever
- Signs of dehydration, like dry lips and sallow skin
- Refusal or inability to eat or drink
- Vomiting and diarrhea
- Significantly decreased alertness
- Head and body aches
It’s important to remember that not everyone with the flu will have a fever. If you suspect it’s more serious than a run-of-the-mill cold, take your child to see a physician immediately.
Q: Well, then how do I know if it’s a cold or more serious, like the flu?
A: While the symptoms are similar, cold tends to present with more limited symptoms like sinus pressure, blocked or runny nose, body aches and low grade fever, if any. The flu will present with more serious, body-wide symptoms like vomiting, dehydration, headaches and extreme fatigue.
Flu can also lead to additional complications, which is especially true for those with compromised immune systems. Sinus and ear infections are moderate complications of the flu while respiratory infections, like pneumonia, are more serious complications. Other serious complications may include:
- Inflammation of the heart (myocarditis)
- Brain (encephalitis)
- Muscle tissues (myositis, rhabdomyolysis)
- Multi-organ failure
Flu can also trigger an inflammatory response in the body that leads to sepsis or other infections. Flu may also worsen chronic conditions like asthma and diabetes.
These are all examples of very serious but rare complications. As long as you seek treatment and address all symptoms, most influenza cases clear up in less than a week. The best preventative measure you can take against the flu is to regularly wash hands, clean surfaces and get your annual flu vaccination. Check out our quick guide on handwashing or see where you can get vaccinated. It’s important to remember that the flu changes often and getting yearly immunizations ensures you’re protected against the most recent strains.
Are you dealing with a fever that just won’t go away? Come see one of our board certified emergency physicians for immediate treatment.
Nutex Health, Inc. supports you and your family’s health. Come visit STAT Emergency Center or any one of our concierge-level freestanding facilities for the emergency care you deserve, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.