man sick not feeling well on couch

Should You Go to the ER for Flu Symptoms?

Do I Need Emergency Medical Care for Flu-Like Symptoms?

If you’re experiencing symptoms of a respiratory condition without improvement, or your condition is worsening, you may be wondering if it’s time to visit an emergency room.

Learn more about the emergency symptoms of common illnesses, and how our team at PrimeCare Emergency Center can help.

Signs You May Have COVID-19

Those who test positive for COVID-19 will either be asymptomatic (show no symptoms) or experience a range of mild to severe symptoms within 14 days of exposure to the novel coronavirus.

Patients with COVID-19 typically experience symptoms more closely related to the seasonal flu, including:

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

If you believe you have COVID-19, it’s important to get tested. For minor COVID-19 symptoms, the best medicine is to get rest at home and stay hydrated. Taking over-the-counter medicines, such as acetaminophen, can also help you feel better.

Emergency COVID-19 Symptoms

Though minor cases of COVID-19 can be treated at home, there are some symptoms that warrant immediate medical attention, including:

  • Trouble breathing
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • New confusion
  • Inability to wake or stay awake
  • Bluish lips or face

Signs You May Have the Flu

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), influenza (flu) and COVID-19 are both contagious respiratory illnesses caused by different viruses. While flu and COVID-19 share many symptoms, there are some key differences between how these diseases affect our bodies.

Common signs of the flu include:

  • Feeling feverish/chills, or a fever in some cases.
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue (tiredness)

Emergency Flu Symptoms

You do not need to go to the emergency room if you are mildly sick. Unfortunately, there isn’t much your doctor can do about the flu, and, in most cases, patients are prescribed lots of rest and fluids until their symptoms go away. However, the flu has the potential to become a medical emergency for some patients, especially if these symptoms are present:

In children:

  • Fast breathing or trouble breathing
  • Bluish lips or face
  • Ribs pulling in with each breath
  • Chest pain
  • Severe muscle pain (child refuses to walk)
  • Dehydration (no urine for 8 hours, dry mouth, no tears when crying)
  • Not alert or interacting when awake
  • Seizures
  • Fever above 104°F
  • In children less than 12 weeks, any fever
  • Fever or cough that improves but then returns or worsen
  • Worsening of chronic medical conditions

In adults:

  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
  • Persistent dizziness, confusion, inability to arouse
  • Seizures
  • Not urinating
  • Severe muscle pain
  • Severe weakness or unsteadiness
  • Fever or cough that improves but then returns or worsen
  • Worsening of chronic medical conditions

Signs You May Have Allergies

Many symptoms of allergies easily mimic minor symptoms of COVID-19, the flu, or a cold — making it hard to tell if you’re getting sick.

Some common symptoms of allergies include:

One way to identify if you have allergies or a respiratory illness is the presence of a fever. Many patients who have tested positive for COVID-19 or the flu note feeling feverish and/or having a mid to high-grade fever.

Emergency Allergy Symptoms

Patients who have a food allergy are at the highest risk of having a medical emergency. If a patient is exposed to an allergen such as a bee sting or food they are allergic to, or ingest that food, they risk developing a life-threatening response called anaphylaxis.

Anaphylaxis requires an injection of epinephrine and a trip to an emergency room. If you don't have epinephrine (typically administered in an EpiPen), you need to go to an emergency room immediately. If anaphylaxis isn't treated right away, it can be fatal.

An allergy attack can lead to anaphylaxis, an asthma attack (the inability to breath), and other life-threatening symptoms if left untreated. If you experience any of these symptoms, you should seek medical attention immediately.

Flu and COVID-19 Care in Arlington

Since the COVID-19 pandemic has swept the globe, the medical community has been working diligently to treat the individuals affected by the virus. Thanks to these efforts, for emergency use, we can now utilize the abilities of the antibody Bamlanivimab. Bamlanivimab is a medicine that the FDA has authorized for Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) to treat mild to moderate symptoms of COVID-19 in adults and adolescents 12 years of age and older.

Click here to learn more about this treatment.

At PrimeCare Emergency Center, our staff is committed to providing you with attentive and compassionate care. If you feel that you have emergency signs of the flu or COVID-19, give our team a call at (682) 253-6655 today!