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Flu in Adults (cont.)

When to Seek Medical Care

Most people with the flu take care of themselves at home and do not seek medical care.

Consult a doctor if the following situations occur:

  • A cold lasts for more than 10 days.
  • Body temperature rises above 102 F (38.8 C) in spite of treatment with medicines.
  • Shortness of breath develops.
  • Symptoms last longer than five to seven days without any relief.

Certain high-risk groups of people are in danger of developing complications from the flu and should contact their doctors if symptoms develop:

  • Those with chronic diseases of the heart, lungs, or kidneys (asthma, cystic fibrosis are examples)
  • Pregnant women
  • People with obesity or diabetes
  • Anyone who is HIV positive or has AIDS
  • Residents of nursing homes and other facilities
  • Elderly people (older than 65 years of age)

Complications may develop with the flu. Seek care in a hospital's emergency department for the following developments. These symptoms may signify a more severe and complicated attack of flu (for example, sinus and ear infections, bronchitis, and the development of pneumonia). Pneumonia is an infection of the lungs, and it may be caused by the flu virus itself or by a bacterial infection that may occur when the person is weakened during a flu attack.

  • Dehydration and unable to drink fluids
  • Blood in the sputum (saliva mixed with mucus and coughed up)
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Turning blue (a sign of poor oxygenation)
  • Worsening fever
  • Return of fever, cough, and other symptoms in the second week after the onset of the flu or worsening after symptoms have begun to improve
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 2/22/2013
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