When you experience symptoms, how do you know if it is something that will go away, or something that needs attention from a doctor? Here is a laundry list of symptoms that tend to be associated with the flu or the common cold, but that could actually indicate something more serious:
- Difficulty breathing: It’s important to know that viral infections such as the flu should not make you short of breath. Catching your breath is different than difficulty breathing. It could be a ymptom of a far more serious problem. Possibilities include pneumonia, asthma, heart disease, lung abscess, pneumothorax (air surrounding your lungs), pulmonary embolism (blood clot), lung disease, anemia, chronic obstructive lung disease, or a handful of others. This list underlines the importance of seeing a medical professional. Also, very important: if a child experiences shortness of breath, he or she should be taken immediately to a doctor.
- Fever: If a fever lasts beyond four days, it is not a good thing. In fact, it is a sign that there could be an infection in your body that requires treatment.
- Chest pain: Chest pain, much like breathing difficulties, can signify a potentially serious underlying condition. Don’t let it go undiagnosed. Chest pain can be symptomatic of heart disease, pneumonia, asthma, digestive problems, anxiety, muscle strain, and more. Let a doctor make the call.
- Persistent congestion, headaches: Sometimes, your sinuses will get blocked and headaches will set in. If they last for longer than seems normal, see a doctor as soon as they become too frustrating to tolerate any further. Antibiotics will likely be used.
- Abnormal cough: This means a cough that brings up a lot of yellow or green mucous. It could also mean a persistent cough that doesn’t seem to disappear. A doctor may treat you with a dose of antihistamines or he or she might discover it is a symptom of asthma or gastro-esophageal reflux disease that you didn’t know you had. If you experience heartburn or acid reflux, it?s likely you have the
latter, also known as GERD. Both it and asthma are treatable. An unexplained cough that lasts three weeks or so could be symptomatic of pertussis, which is better known as the whooping cough — a bacterial infection that once struck children alone, but now is seen more than 60% of the time in adolescents and adults. It may take an antibiotic to cure this.
- Excessive vomiting: If you are unable to keep fluids down, it means you are at risk of dehydration. Children are most at risk of flu-caused vomiting. There may be a hospital trip in order so that fluids can be set up intravenously.
- Painful swallowing: A flu-caused sore throat can make it unpleasant to swallow, but severe pain is something completely different. You may have sustained an injury or have an infection that needs medical treatment.
- Others: They vary in severity, and all can be a warning sign of something wrong in your body. See a doctor if you have: irritability; ear aches or drainage; seizures; severe pain in the face or forehead; wheezing; feeling of faintness; or confusion.