Is it the Flu or Something More Serious?

Kenneth Knowles, MD
Medically reviewed by Kenneth Knowles, MDFebruary 14th, 2020

Every fall and winter we hear of alarming numbers of people who are admitted to hospitals with or even die from the flu. But in reality, the worst of these cases are afflicted with not just the flu, but dangerous complications that have arisen from it.

Common complications like sinus or ear infections are generally treatable and pose little risk to otherwise healthy adults. But more serious complications such as inflammation of the heart, pneumonia or serious dehydration can lead to organ failure or even death, especially in someone whose immune system is already compromised by age or illness.

But how do you know if your symptoms are simply the flu or progressing into something more dangerous?

Normal Signs of Flu

A healthy adult who contracts the flu can expect the following symptoms to occur:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Chest congestion and cough
  • Headaches
  • Aches, often severe
  • Fatigue or weakness
  • Digestive upset (more common in children)

Symptoms of Something More

In adults, even those who are otherwise healthy, the following symptoms warrant medical care:

  • Breathing difficulty
  • Chest or abdominal pains
  • Sudden dizziness or confusion
  • Severe or continued vomiting

If you only see normal flu symptoms, but they resolve and then return more strongly, that can also be a big red flag.

For children, the following symptoms can be signs of danger:

  • Rapid breath
  • Changes in skin color
  • Unresponsiveness
  • Fever with a rash
  • Refusing to be held or comforted
  • Symptoms that resolve and come back worse

In infants, additional red flag symptoms include:

  • Inability to eat
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Crying without tears
  • Fewer wet diapers than normal

If you see any of the above symptoms, it’s important to seek medical attention immediately, to avoid progression of dangerous complications.

What to Do

If you suspect the flu is becoming something worse, a wait-and-see attitude can prove dangerous. Instead, get checked out by a medical professional who can diagnose and treat your symptoms properly.

But sitting in a germy waiting room in the middle of a flu outbreak is a less than appealing option, especially when you’re already feeling poorly. Fortunately, there’s a better option. With DispatchHealth, you can get flu treatment at home from a team of medical professionals, also deemed this season’s “

Traveling Flu Crew“.

Woman having arm wrapped in bandage by DispatchHealth medical staff

Woman having arm wrapped in bandage by DispatchHealth medical staff

If you’re feeling flu-like symptoms, you can call DispatchHealth’s flu hotline (1-888-908-0553) to discuss your symptoms over the phone and request care, or you can visit DispatchHealth’s website or app. In less than two hours two qualified medical professionals, also known as the season’s “

Traveling Flu Crew” are sent to your doorstep, office or place of need with all of the equipment and tools to treat complex cases. Each medical team consists of either a physician assistant or nurse practitioner, along with a DispatchHealth medical technician (DHMT) and an on-call physician. With patient consent, providers share a detailed report to each patient’s living community, home health agency and/or primary care physician immediately following the visit, ensuring a seamless care experience.

The best part? It’s affordable. A visit with DispatchHealth typically costs one-tenth of the price of a visit to the ER and patients pay an average of $5-$50 depending on their insurance plan.

So the next time you or a family member are suffering from flu or other urgent health conditions like sprains, skin conditions or respiratory infections, call in the experts from DispatchHealth.

It’s the convenience you need with the comfort you deserve.


DispatchHealth relies only on authoritative sources, including medical associations, research institutions, and peer-reviewed medical studies.

Sources referenced in this article:

The DispatchHealth blog provides tips, tricks and advice for improving lives through convenient, comfortable healthcare.

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