We all know this year's flu season is particularly bad. All across the country, there have been thousands of hospitalizations and several fatalities due to influenza. But there's still a pervasive idea that the flu is "no big deal." While there are certain individuals who need to take extra precautions when it comes to the flu -- such as children, elderly adults, pregnant women, and those with weakened immune systems -- this virus needs to be taken seriously no matter what.
First of all, it's important to know what symptoms to look for. Fever is incredibly common with influenza, as are chills, body aches, cough, and congestion. If you have a high fever (generally, 102 degrees Fahrenheit or above) and fever-reducing medications have not helped, you should seek out urgent or emergency care.
While 44% to 65% of all ER episodes could have been treated at urgent care locations according to a recent study, there are certain times when it's much more appropriate to seek out medical treatment at the ER. For instance, if you have difficulty breathing, are experiencing stomach or chest pain, are feeling lightheaded or dizzy, or you have exhibited severe vomiting along with other flu symptoms, you should absolutely seek out emergency treatment.
However, you should keep in mind that not every flu case is an emergency. If you worry that you've been exposed to the flu or you're noticing initial symptoms that could be the flu, you should head to one of the urgent care locations in your area for immediate flu treatment. Medications that can shorten the length and lessen the severity of influenza are available, but they are most effective when administered within the first 24 to 48 hours of onset.
Generally speaking, you should not take the "wait it out" approach to the flu. This virus is a lot more serious than people realize; without swift action, a full-blown case can have major ramifications. If you have not yet received your flu shot, make sure to do so right away. And if you suspect you might be experiencing symptoms of the flu, go to one of the urgent care locations nearby to seek out treatment. Even if it's too late for an antiviral medication, you'll be able to receive a diagnosis and medical recommendations to ensure you and your loved ones stay safe.
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