During the peak of flu season, emergency rooms across the country are flooded with patients with mild to moderate flu-like symptoms. However, many of them aren’t sick enough to be there. Visiting an emergency room when you don’t have the flu can also expose you to others who do have the virus – increasing your chances of getting infected.
Flu symptoms can often be treated quickly and effectively at urgent care clinics, freeing emergency rooms to focus on patients in greater need of critical care. But for certain high-risk groups, even mild to moderate flu symptoms can be deadly without immediate treatment.
When can an urgent care clinic handle your flu treatment needs, and when should you head straight to the emergency room? Let’s break down the answer below.
When to Visit an Urgent Care Clinic
The flu usually isn’t an emergency, especially if you are young and otherwise healthy. Typical mild to moderate flu symptoms include:
- Muscle or body aches
- Sore throat
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Loss of appetite
An urgent care clinic can give you a flu test to confirm if you have the virus and prescribe any medication(s) you need to self-treat at home. Many urgent care clinics also offer on-site X-rays, blood work, and lab tests if necessary.
Antiviral medications can help shorten the length of time you are sick, but they are most effective when started within 1-2 days of your first symptoms. So don’t delay – you can visit an urgent care clinic as soon as you begin feeling unwell.
When to Visit the Emergency Room
Infants, toddlers, people age 65 and older, pregnant women, and anyone with a severe chronic illness or a compromised immune system are all more vulnerable to the dangers of the flu. These high-risk groups may need to visit the emergency room at the first sign of potential flu symptoms.
Adults who have the following symptoms, even if they don’t fall into a high-risk category, should also go to the emergency room for immediate care:
- Difficulty breathing or respiratory distress
- Chest or abdominal pain
- Sudden dizziness or frequent dizzy spells
- Confusion or altered mental status
- Severe or persistent vomiting
- Fever with visible rash
It can be harder to pinpoint flu symptoms in infants and children, especially if they aren’t talking or walking yet. Watch for these emergency symptoms as well:
- Skin or lips turn blue
- Extreme irritability
- Lack of tears when crying
- Fewer wet diapers than usual
- Not eating or drinking
TrustCare Can Help You Fight the Flu
At TrustCare, our goal is to provide quality care so you can Feel Better Faster®. Why visit a crowded, germ-filled emergency room when you don’t have to? TrustCare urgent care clinics are open are open late and weekends for your convenience. From flu tests to flu vaccines, all you have to do is walk in.
TrustCare also offers primary care, telehealth, pediatric primary care (TrustCare Kids), and so much more. To get started, find a TrustCare location near you today.