When To Call the Doctor About A Cold or Flu

Cold and flu season is approaching fast. Many viruses can pack a powerful punch, causing you to miss work. The flu can be especially serious, causing thousands of deaths in the United States each year.

In many cases, you can stay home and treat the symptoms of colds and flus yourself. However, if your symptoms become worse, you need to seek medical treatment.

Call a physician if you have:

  • Pre-existing conditions. Certain chronic illnesses such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease or kidney disease can be complicated by colds or flus. If you have one of these conditions, contact your physician for help treating and monitoring illnesses.
  • A high fever. The flu, but not the common cold, can cause high fevers. If you experience a fever over 103 degrees, your fever lasts longer than 24 hours or your fever causes symptoms like irritability or delusions, you should call your physician. A fever over 104 degrees requires a trip to the emergency department for urgent care.
  • Chest pain. Chest pain may be a sign of serious illness or that your cold or flu has complicated a pre-existing condition.
  • Severe shortness of breath. If you cannot catch your breath or have persistent breathing problems, you may need medical assistance.
  • A persistent earache. If the over-the-counter medicines do not help your ear pain, you may have an ear infection that needs treated.
  • Yellow, brown or green phlegm. If you cough up mucus that is a strange color, contact your physician as you may be experiencing another illness that needs treated.

Watch for these signs that your illness is becoming severe, and contact your physician right away for treatment. Find out more about how IU Health can help you with cold and flu

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