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What You Should Know Before You Go to an Urgent Care for the Flu

Jul 21, 2022

Urgent Care

Urgent Care for the Flu

Influenza, or the flu, is a highly contagious virus that affects your respiratory system (nose, lungs, and throat). Though it is a seasonal viral infection, the flu can be life-threatening for pregnant women, people over 65 years old, and those with pre-existing health conditions or compromised immune systems. If not treated on time, they can develop fatal complications like pneumonia or secondary infections such as ear infections and bronchitis.

Being aware of its common symptoms and more serious signs will help you know when to go to urgent care for the flu.

 This article details a few important things you should know before visiting an urgent care for the flu.

What Are Some Common Symptoms of the Flu?

The infected usually develop symptoms after 1-4 days of the initial exposure to the flu virus, which include:

  • Chills and sweats 
  • Fever
  • Runny nose or congestion
  • Diarrhea or vomiting (common in children)
  • Cough
  • Headache
  • Sore throat 
  • Fatigue 
  • Body aches
  • Eye pain
  • Shortness of breath

What to Do If You Get the Flu?

If you are diagnosed with the flu:

Avoid close contact with others for 5-7 days, or wear a face mask to cover your nose and mouth when you cough, talk, or sneeze to keep others from catching the infection.  

  • Get plenty of rest to speed up your recovery. 
  • Drink more fluids to stay hydrated. 
  • Take over-the-counter medications to alleviate symptoms, such as body aches and fever.

How Long Should I Stay Home If I Am Sick?

The flu can be contagious for a week with/without symptoms. Therefore, if you are sick, stay home until your fever subsides. The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) also recommends staying home for at least a day after your fever is gone.

 Should I Visit an Urgent Care for the Flu?

Generally, the flu can be resolved within a few days with over-the-counter medications or at-home treatments. However, you must visit an urgent care facility for immediate medical intervention if your symptoms:

  • Persist for more than a week    
  • Come back after a few days, which may imply a secondary infection

How Does an Urgent Care Doctor Treat the Flu?

Your healthcare provider will review your symptoms and medical history and perform a physical examination to diagnose your condition. Depending on the severity of your symptoms and how early your flu is detected, they may recommend a steroid injection or prescribe antiviral drugs.

You may likely develop pneumonia if you are immunocompromised (when your immune system's defenses are low, affecting its ability to fight diseases and infections).  So your doctor may require a chest X-ray as a preventative measure to look for signs of pneumonia and treat you accordingly.

When Should You Visit an Emergency Room for the Flu?

An adult or child experiencing the following flu symptoms may require an ER visit to prevent life-threatening health complications.

Emergency warning signs in adults include:

  • Breathing difficulty 
  • Seizures
  • Persistent dizziness
  • Severe muscle pain
  • Consistent pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
  • Fever or cough that comes back or worsens
  • Urinary retention
  • Severe weakness or unsteadiness
  • Worsening of chronic medical conditions 
  • Emergency warning signs in children include:
  • Rapid or troubled breathing
  • Chest pain
  • Fever or cough that reoccurs or worsens
  • Bluish lips or face
  • Worsening of chronic medical conditions
  • Not alert or interactive when awake 
  • Severe muscle pain   
  • Dehydration (hasn’t urinated for 8 hours, dry mouth, and no tears when crying)
  • Any fever (moderate/mild) in children less than 12 weeks
  • Ribs pulling in with each breath
  • Seizures
  • Fever above 104°F

How Can I Protect Myself from the Flu?

The best way to prevent getting the flu is to reduce your odds of catching the virus. Follow these tips to protect yourself from getting the flu:

Get a Flu Shot Every Year

The flu vaccine is updated annually with new strains of viruses that may be spreading in the given year. Therefore, getting a flu vaccine every year is crucial to stay protected against the virus. Your flu shot can be administered at an urgent care, pharmacy, or through your primary care provider.

Wash Your Hands

Washing your hands regularly with soap or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer helps avoid contracting germs.

Avoid Touching Your Face

Don’t touch your eyes, nose, or mouth after touching contaminated objects or surfaces.

Clean High-Contact Surfaces

Clean and disinfect frequently-touched surfaces in your home or work, especially when someone is sick.

Eat Healthy Foods

Eating a nutritious diet enriched with vitamin-rich fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and proteins will keep your immune system healthy and less susceptible to infections.

Is the Flu Dangerous?

Generally, the flu is not dangerous. However, earlier diagnosis and treatment are essential to get rid of it quickly without developing more serious health issues.

If you or your child has flu or flu-like symptoms, contact us today at Metro Urgent Care. We will quickly diagnose your condition and offer personalized treatment and assistance for immediate relief.

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