Flu Symptoms & When to go to the Emergency Room

By January 28, 2019Health Basics

Influenza symptom ER

Some of the most common questions we receive around this time of year is about the flu, also known as influenza. We’re covering  flu symptoms, how the flu is different than a cold, various complications from the flu, high-risk groups, and when to go to the Emergency Room. Note: If you think you may have a medical emergency, call 911, or go to your nearest ER immediately.

What is the Flu?

  • Also known as influenza
  • Contagious
  • Caused by a virus
  • Respiratory Illness
  • Mild to Severe
  • Can be fatal, especially in high-risk groups (see below)

How is the Flu different from a cold?

  • Flu is not a cold
  • Flu comes on suddenly, but a cold comes on gradually.
  • A fever and/or headache is common with the flu. However, it’s more rare to have a headache and/or fever with a cold.

What are Flu Symptoms?

Common Flu Symptoms are:

  • High Fever
  • Headache
  • Aches
  • Chills
  • Fatigue/weakness
  • Joint & muscle pain
  • Dry cough/Chest cough
  • Dehydration from vomiting and/or diarrhea
  • Sneezing (not as common)
  • Stuffy nose (not as common)
  • Sore Throat  (not as common)

What are flu symptoms in children?

Children can have any of the symptoms listed above. However, they can often have additional symptoms that should be monitored closely.

  • Vomiting is more common in children with the flu
  • Crying without tears
  • Inability to eat or drink (dehydration)
  • Fever with a rash
  • Trouble urinating

What is the difference between flu and cedar fever?

Read our article here about the differences between flu and cedar fever.

How long do symptoms last?

  • Most people recover in a few days to less than two weeks
  • Some people can have complications like pneumonia
  • Some complications can be life-threatening and result in death (Please see list of complications below).)

What are serious complications from the flu?

Some serious complications can be triggered by the flu.

  • Sinus infection
  • Ear Infection
  • Pneumonia
  • Inflammation of the heart
  • Organ failure
  • Sepsis

High risk factors for complications:

People with a high-risk of developing complications from the flu include:

  • Children under five years old, and especially those under two years
  • Residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities
  • Pregnant women
  • Postpartum women (up to two weeks postpartum)
  • People who have weakened immune systems
  • Patients with chronic illnesses like asthma, heart disease, kidney disease, liver disease and diabetes
  • People who are very obese

Should I go the Emergency Room (ER) for the flu?

You should immediately go to the closest Emergency Room if you are experiencing:

  • Severe flu symptoms
  • Severe headache
  • Trouble Breathing
  • Coughing up yellow or green mucus

How can I fight the flu?

Read our article here about how to fight the flu.


Disclaimer: This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.  Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider if you have any questions regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking treatment because of something you have viewed or read on the internet.

If you think you may have a medical emergency, call 911, or go to your nearest emergency room immediately.  Reliance on any information provided by Five Star ER, its staff, or any others appearing in the videos is solely at your own risk.

About Five Star ER

Five Star ER is a freestanding Emergency Room that provides excellent 24 hour care. We are located in South Austin, Pflugerville and Dripping Springs.


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