7 Ways to Tell If You Need Urgent Care for Your Cold or Flu

7 Ways to Tell If You Need Urgent Care for Your Cold or Flu 150 150 Tony Guo

7 Ways to Tell If You Need Urgent Care for Your Cold or Flu

It’s the start of cold and flu season and you’re starting to feel the symptoms of one or both making themselves known in your body. The first thing many people do when they feel under the weather, whether it be due to a cold or the flu, is go to their local urgent care center or emergency room to seek treatment right away. Although this might seem like a good idea because you are feeling sick, it might actually do more harm than good if you don’t follow these 7 tips on how to tell if you need urgent care for your cold or flu.

1) Does your throat hurt?
Many cold and flu symptoms don’t affect our throats, so it may be a good idea to suspect that your sore throat is caused by something else. For example, if you have strep throat, you’ll have swollen lymph nodes in your neck. In addition, a strep infection will make your tonsils (the fleshy part of your throat) appear white and sometimes bubble or bleed.

2) Is your cough productive?
Coughing up phlegm, yellow-green in color, with an unpleasant odor is one of the most common cold and flu symptoms. But you don’t necessarily need urgent care if your cough is productive—it just means your body is trying to clear your lungs by getting rid of excess mucus.

3) Do you have a fever?
A fever is one of your body’s ways of fighting infections. It can also, however, mean that your body isn’t strong enough to fight off whatever bug you’ve caught—in which case it may require some professional attention. That said, not all fevers are bad.

4) Are you having trouble breathing?
Shortness of breath is one of the most common symptoms of a cold and flu, but it can also be a symptom of asthma, allergies and other issues. Before you head over to urgent care, check in with your doctor about whether you’re experiencing shortness of breath due to an underlying condition.

5) Are you getting worse instead of better?
While most colds and flus will disappear within a week without treatment, if yours persists, you should probably visit urgent care. If your symptoms are worsening despite your best efforts at self-care (taking over-the-counter medications, drinking plenty of fluids), it’s time to get some professional advice.

6) Do you need an antibiotic?
When do you need antibiotics? The short answer is: most of us don’t. Antibiotics are a type of medication that fights bacteria in your body, but not viruses. Antibiotics can help fight bacterial infections (like strep throat), but they won’t help with a virus (like cold or flu). They also have side effects and can cause complications if taken incorrectly. So, it is best to avoid them as much as possible.

7) Do you know what’s wrong with you?
Most of us just don’t know what’s wrong with us. We have no idea whether we should take ibuprofen or call a doctor. The truth is that even when you’re feeling terrible, there are still times when it may not make sense to go see a doctor. So in general, here are some things you should consider: Do I have a fever? How long have I had symptoms? Am I having trouble breathing?

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