Cold and flu
Both colds and flu are viral infections that cause fever, cough, sore throat, muscle aches and fatigue. Symptoms can last up to a week but will subside as your body fights off infection. While many people feel like they’re at death’s door when they have a cold or flu, it’s important not to exaggerate symptoms—which will only take you longer to recover. There are several other serious conditions that also cause these symptoms, so if you feel any of them or your condition worsens in any way , it’s always best to see a doctor right away.
While some colds and flus can be managed at home, there are times when you should consider going to a hospital or an urgent care facility. For example, if you’ve got a fever above 102 degrees Fahrenheit, congestion so severe that it’s hard for you to breathe, or trouble eating because of nausea and vomiting. You may also want to see a doctor if your symptoms don’t improve after three days of self-care. Also visit emergency care if you have any other medical concerns; people who have chronic conditions like asthma or diabetes are more vulnerable during flu season. In particular, make sure your medication is up-to-date—you may need treatment beyond what over-the-counter remedies can provide. (See our full list of reasons here .)
It’s important to treat colds and flu with over-the-counter medication, not antibiotics. These ailments are caused by viruses, which cannot be killed by antibiotics. This can cause them to get stronger and continue spreading. The key is getting plenty of rest, drinking fluids and applying over-the-counter pain relief such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Unless you experience difficulty breathing or chest pain, it’s not necessary to go to an emergency room for a cold or flu. Instead, make an appointment with your primary care physician when symptoms subside so they can prescribe additional medication if needed.