Flu Symptoms – Who is At Risk, Treatments & When to Visit the ER. The flu is a viral infection caused by the influenza virus, the infection affects the upper and lower respiratory system (nose, throat, and lungs). For most patients, the flu is a minor inconvenience, but it can easily become a life-threatening illness if not treated properly.
Who is Most at Risk
Certain segments of the populations are more vulnerable to the flu and its complications, these include:
- Adults over the age of 65.
- Children under the age of 5.
- Women who are pregnant.
- Women up to two weeks postpartum.
- People with weakened immune systems.
- People with certain chronic illnesses like Asthma, Diabetes, Heart Disease, and Kidney Disease.
- People with obesity.
What are the Most Common Flu Symptoms?
There are many factors that could result in Flu Symptoms, most pain is caused by
What are the Most Common Flu Symptoms
There is a range of symptoms associated with the flu such as:
- A headache.
- Severe body aches.
- Tiredness and weakness lasting up to 3 weeks.
- Extreme exhaustion during the first few days.
- Chest discomfort with or without a cough.
- Chills and sweats.
- Nausea and vomiting (most common in children than adults).
- Fever over 100.4.
Patients with the flu may also experience nasal congestion, sneezing, and sore throat.
Complications from the Flu
High-risk individuals may develop serious complications from the flu including:
- Asthma flare-ups.
- Ear infections.
- Sinus infections.
- Heart Problems.
How is the Flu Diagnosed?
There are a number of flu tests available to emergency physicians to help diagnose the influenza virus:
- Rapid Influenza Diagnostic Tests (RIDTs): These detect the virus antigens that are responsible for stimulating an immune response in the body. Results are available in approximately 10-15 minutes.
- Rapid Molecular Assays: These tests are more accurate than RIDT’s as they detect the genetic material of the virus. Results from rapid molecular assays are available within 15-20 minutes.
- Diagnostic Laboratory Tests: This type of diagnostic test needs to be performed in a full-service diagnostic laboratory, the results are extremely accurate and sensitive.
All flu tests are done by swiping the inside of the nose or the back of the throat to collect a sample which is then tested for the flu virus.
Flu treatments include:
- Administering Anti-Viral Drugs: This course of treatment needs to be applied within the first 48 hours of flu symptoms and they will diminish the severity and duration of symptoms.
- Pain medication: This is used to alleviate the severe body aches associated with the flu.
- Decongestants: If the patient is suffering some severe congestion that is affecting their ability to breath, our physicians will prescribe a decongestant.
Complications from the flu treatment options:
Complications of the flu vary in severity, and depending on the complication our physicians will decide on the best course of treatment which may include:
- Antibiotics: Antibiotics only treat bacterial infections; therefore, they are ineffective in the treatment of the flu. However, for patients who develop pneumonia, or ear infections or sinus infections antibiotics are recommended.
- Nebulization: This treatment is recommended for patients who experience asthma flare-ups or severe congestion which makes it difficult for them to breathe.
- IV Fluids: Patients may become dehydrated because of the flu, to replenish the lost fluids our centers are equipped with IV fluid drips.
When to Seek Medical Assistance
If you or someone you know experiences any of the following, seek immediate emergency medical attention:
- Persistent Fever: Fevers lasting 3 or more days or those who recede only to come back may be a sign of an infection.
- Extreme Pain While Swallowing: This could be a sign of strep throat.
- A persistent Cough: A cough lasting more than two weeks or those with thick mucus need to be evaluated by a doctor as it could be a sign of bronchitis.
- Trouble Breathing or Chest Pains: Shortness of breath and chest pains are not symptoms associated with the flu if you experience either of these, visit one of our centers for further testing.