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When to Seek Emergency Care for the Flu | McFarland Clinic

January 25, 2020


Sometimes influenza symptoms come on very
quickly. And so particularly if somebody is feeling very ill, which is sort of subjective,
but if somebody’s common sense tells them I am too sick to wait for a doctor’s appointment.
I have high fevers, I’m feeling short of breath, or I have a chronic medical condition that
I think this needs to evaluated right away, those would be reasons to go into an urgent
care or the emergency department. Particularly if it’s over a weekend or after clinic hours
and you don’t want to have to wait until Monday. Sometimes what happens is we get sick and
we think this is probably a cold, and then things seem like they progress, and all of
a sudden we’re starting to feel short of breath and feeling really sick, and that too would
be a reason to go in to be seen urgently. Also with influenza, sometimes what can happen
is that the virus when we get infected puts us at risk for getting a bacterial pneumonia.
And so one way to think about that is if somebody gets what they think was influenza and they
were getting better for a few days, and then all of a sudden they take a dramatic turn
for the worse, that could be a sign of a secondary bacterial pneumonia that might need antibiotics,
and so being urgently evaluated for that would also be important. But in general influenza,
once you get sick, you will be sicker than when you have a common cold. So as long as
you’re gradually improving over the course of time–people describe it usually takes
about a week to get back to feeling good–so as long as you’re getting better, urgent evaluation
wouldn’t be needed.

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