How to Know if It’s the Flu

How to Know if It’s the Flu

Last year’s flu season was a high severity, H3N2-predominant season, according to the CDC. There were plenty of packed ERs and urgent care centers treating large numbers of sick patients for flu and influenza-like illness (ILI, or acute respiratory infection), RSV, strep and more. For the 2018-2019 season, the CDC recommends getting your annual flu shot by the end of October. This year, that means FluMist®, too.

Start a Virtual Visit for Flu or Other Symptoms

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 chills, aches and pains, fever, headache and extreme fatigue.

20171212 HCA Influenza InfographicWho 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.

Arlene Jacobs, MD, an OB/GYN at Medical City Plano, said pregnant women can and should get a flu shot regardless of how far along they are.

“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

In an interview with the Denton Record-Chronicle, 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:

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.

Real treatment for flu with Medical City Virtual Care.

Most cases of flu won’t require emergency treatment, but if symptoms are severe enough you may want to see a doctor. A great option to avoid having to leave work, venture out when you’re not feeling well or haul a sick child to the pediatrician is to see an online doctor. There’s no appointment necessary with Medical City Virtual Care and visits take just 5 to 15 minutes to complete. Log on to Medical City Virtual Care from any mobile device or desktop computer and get diagnosis, treatment and prescriptions for flu and a variety of other non-emergency medical conditions. Use code BLOG10 for $10 off your first visit.

Virtual-Visits-Infographic

Use code BLOG10 for $10 off your first visit. (Expires 12/31/2019)

Possible complications of flu.

For some people, a simple case of the flu is not so simple. Complications of flu can include:

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 30 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.

If the flu has you under the weather, you’ll find expert emergency care at one of our many Medical City ER locations across North Texas. With average wait times posted online, if you do have an emergency, you can spend less time waiting and more time on the moments that matter most.

Find a fast Medical City ER near you or call our free, 24/7 Ask a Nurse hotline.

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Revised 10/9/2018.

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