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Though the flu can often be treated at home without a visit to the physician’s office, more serious conditions can present flu-like symptoms or result from the virus unexpectedly.
Typically, a healthy person who contracts the flu virus can recover from the disease safely at home. Common symptoms of the flu include headaches, muscle pain, sore throat, coughing, runny nose, congestion, fatigue, fever and sweaty chills.
In some cases, however, the flu does require the attention of a physician. If you think you have the flu and are trying to treat the illness at home, keep an eye out for symptoms such as a fever above 103 degrees Fahrenheit or that lasts longer than five days, severe earaches or chest pain, shortness of breath, lightheadedness, confusion, persistent vomiting, and coughing up colored phlegm. These symptoms may be the result of a new condition developing as a result of the flu, such as a sinus infection, ear infection or pneumonia.
In extreme situations, organ failure, sepsis, or inflammation of the heart, brain or muscle tissues can also result from the flu.
Certain people should always contact the doctor if they have the flu, especially if they have a pre-existing or chronic condition. If you have asthma, heart disease, a neurological condition, or a disorder that affects your blood, immune system, liver or other organs, then you should schedule a visit with your physician as soon as possible after common flu symptoms present themselves.
Additionally, pregnant women, nursing home residents, children younger than age 5, adults older than age 65 and people with a body mass index greater than 40 should always contact their physician if they develop flu-like symptoms.
If you’re unsure whether or not your flu symptoms warrant a visit to the physician’s office, consider scheduling an appointment regardless to prevent further health complications.
Occasionally, flu-like symptoms can precede a heart attack, especially for women. These symptoms can manifest days or weeks before the incident of a heart attack and are fairly mild. Sometimes, simple nausea may be the only warning that a heart attack is on its way.
If you feel strange or believe that your symptoms may be more than just the flu, don’t hesitate to contact your physician or head to an emergency room. Quick and early action is the best way to recover from — or prevent — a heart attack.
This article originally appeared in the 2017 Fall edition of One Health Magazine. Sign up for your free subscription.
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