Influenza, often called the flu, can leave you feeling tired and achy all over, but that’s not all it can do. The CDC estimates that, on average, between 5 and 20 percent of the population in the United States is infected with the flu each year – that’s millions of people. Of those, about 200,000 will be hospitalized for the flu and between 3,000 and 49,000 will die as a result of the flu or related complications. While the flu normally goes away on its own within a few days or up to two weeks, knowing the potential risks associated with the flu makes it incredibly important to know when to see a doctor for the flu.
Symptoms of the Flu
In the United States, flu season generally takes place in the fall and winter with a peak between December and February. While the flu vaccine is available, it is estimated that fewer than half of the U.S. population opts to receive the vaccine each year. Add to this the fact that the vaccine does not offer 100% protection from all forms of the flu and it becomes clear that the flu will continue to be an issue of concern for many years to come. Think you might have the flu? Common symptoms of the flu include:
● Fever or feeling hot or chilled
● Sore throat
● Body aches
● Some people (especially children) may experience vomiting and/or diarrhea
Who is at Increased Risk for Flu Complications?
While everyone is at risk of developing the flu, some people have an increased risk of developing complications from the flu. It’s a good idea to let your doctor know if you think you have the flu if you fall into any of the following groups:
● Aged 65 or older
● Aged 5 or younger (especially aged 2 and younger)
● Pregnant women
● American Indians and Alaskan natives
● Those with a chronic medical condition (such as asthma, diabetes, or heart disease
● Those with a medical condition which affects the immune system (such as HIV/AIDS or Cancer)
When to See a Doctor for the Flu
Complications from the flu can be very serious and even life-threatening. They can include pneumonia, bronchitis, a sinus or ear infection, or worsening of symptoms of an existing disease. It is a good idea to see a doctor for the flu if you feel you may be developing any complications. Signs of complications in adults and that it’s time to contact a doctor include:
● Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
● Chest pain or pressure
● Persistent or severe vomiting
● Flu-like symptoms that improve but then return and worsen with fever
If you feel that you are at risk for developing or may already have complications of the flu, contact a doctor right away. If you’re not up for leaving the house, consider seeing a doctor remotely right on your phone, tablet, or computer.
Book an appointment with a Plushcare doctor today – it’s quick and easy and you don’t even have to change out of your pajamas