You’ve been hit hard by flu. Your symptoms – body aches, fever, chills, headache, and fatigue – just don’t seem to be going away, even after several days. Is it time to seek help from a health care professional or visit the emergency room?
“If you’re not feeling better after about 72 hours, you should see a doctor or go the emergency room, especially in a flu season like this, where the virus is aggressive,” says Dr. Ken Redcross of Redcross Concierge in New York City.
Signs that it’s time to escalate your care include when your fever isn’t responding to treatment and you’re feeling shortness of breath, he says, noting that patients can get sicker and possibly contract pneumonia.
Another sign that your flu is worsening is when you start to feel a little better but then the symptoms return. “If you’re feeling listless over a period of time and you’re not able to get to things because of your illness, you should see a doctor,” Dr. Redcross says.
In children, you should visit the emergency room when they’re not eating or getting enough fluids and they’re cranky and inconsolable. “Don’t wait to try and get a doctor’s appointment. Go right to the ER, especially if there’s a high fever,” he says.