An average of 200,000 Americans are hospitalized for cold and flu annually. These numbers may seem staggering. However, it is even more shocking to hear that depending on the strength of the strain, anywhere between 5%-20% of the population will contract influenza on an annual basis.
These statistics are bewildering. And they create complications that go beyond headaches and fevers. Because pain feels different to all people, it is hard to tell if and when you need medical attention.
Some people feel as though they should go immediately no matter what their symptoms are. Others could be on their deathbed and still refuse to go.
Here are some key factors to look at if and when to seek medical attention.
When to Seek Medical Attention No Matter What
Certain groups of people are more at risk when flu and cold season come around. This includes newborns, people over 65, pregnant women, people with chronic diseases (for example, cancer), and people who have weakened immune systems from a disease or its treatment (for example, people with HIV or AIDS).
If you or someone you love is in this population, you may be wondering when to see a doctor for the flu (or for a cold).
It is pivotal that you pay attention to their symptoms. Because a vast majority of people who die from the flu are elderly or under the age of five, they are considered a particularly vulnerable population during flu season.
When in doubt, it is best to take these individuals to see a doctor no matter what.
Your Flu and Cold Symptoms Will Not Go Away
The flu and the cold are often hard to tell apart because of how similar their symptoms are. Symptoms of the flu include muscle and body aches, headaches, chills, fever, cough, sore throat, and congestion.
The only way to often tell the two apart is how quickly and severely the symptoms present themselves.
In either case, you should feel better within a week or so. If you are passed the seven-day mark, and you are still feeling flu or cold-like symptoms, it may be time to see the doctor.
The cold and flu can–and often do–go away on their own. However, influenza can weaken the lungs, and cause Pneumonia, Bronchitis, or Sinusitis. Make time in your schedule to see a doctor for the flu before such issues arise.
If at Home Remedies Are Not Cutting It
Many of us know the regiment for a cold and the flu pretty well. If you have a fever or body aches, you take painkillers like ibuprofen. If you are congested, they make medicine for that too.
Everyone knows to get lots of fluid and lots of sleep.
But what if you are doing all of these things for a few days, and your fever is still high, or your body is still killing you? It may be best to see a doctor for your flu or cold.
Better Safe Than Sorry
With non-emergency situations, it can be hard to determine when to seek medical attention. But the problem with both colds and influenza is that they can become emergencies before you know it.
Make sure to be taking care of yourself on a day-to-day basis. However, if you feel yourself catching the flu or a cold, it is vital that you stay away from other people. Everyone that is, except a doctor.