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Urgent Care for the Flu

During the flu season, many people feel under the weather. In the 2022-2023 flu season, the CDC reported at least 280,000 hospitalizations from 25 million patients who tested positive.

Most patients display moderate symptoms like cough or sore throat to severe signs like seizures. Interestingly, more cases in your community increase your chances of infection.

Flu patients with severe symptoms require immediate medical care to restore their health. An urgent care center is an excellent option. It provides functional, affordable, and timely care. You can expect quality care because they have qualified physicians, laboratories, and vital supplies to treat the flu.

That said, timely care from an urgent care facility is recommended to prevent the escalation of the symptoms.

What Is the Flu?

Flu or influenza is a highly contagious virus that spreads through respiratory droplets from an infected person emitted through coughing or sneezing. Flu is common in colder months of the year, especially winter.

In the Northern Hemisphere— which includes the U.S., the flu season starts from October to May, with the highest number of cases occurring between January and February.

Flu is often confused with the common cold; however, they are not similar. Common cold causes mild symptoms like sneezing, coughing, and runny nose. On the contrary, the flu may cause severe complications that often lead to hospitalization.

The most common symptoms of the flu include:

  • Sore throat

  • Eye pain

  • Headache

  • Shortness of breath

  • Runny nose

  • Diarrhea and vomiting, common in children than adults

  • Fever

  • Muscle aches

  • Weakness and fatigue

  • Persistent and dry cough

People With High Chances of Flu Complications

Most flu patients get better on their own after falling ill. Even so, Influenza(Flu) can result in fatal complications.

Below are the people with the highest risk of developing flu complications:

  • People with a compromised immune system

  • Young children below two years

  • Older adults over the age of 65 years

  • People with chronic illnesses like asthma, diabetes, alcoholic liver disease, or kidney disease.

  • Pregnant women or those planning to be expectant during flu season.

  • Alaska natives and American Indians

  • Residents of nursing homes or long-term care facilities

People who fall in the above vulnerable group are encouraged to take flu shots to minimize the chances of complications.

When to go to an Urgent Care for the Flu

Most people who experience flu symptoms can find home remedies and care for their symptoms. However, if the flu symptoms persist or worsen, it may be time to visit your local urgent care facility.

In the case of adults, here are a few symptoms that indicate the need to visit an urgent care facility:

  • Symptoms that last more than five days

  • Chest pain

  • Seizures

  • Ongoing dizziness

  • If existing medical conditions worsen

For children, look out for the following symptoms:

  • Difficulty in breathing

  • Severe muscle pain

  • Pale, gray, or blue-colored lips

  • Dehydration

A point to note: Ideally, you should get tested as soon as you start experiencing the symptoms. Knowing the cause of your illness will reduce the risk of spreading and help you find a treatment plan.

Urgent Care Treatment for the Flu

An urgent care physician will conduct a physical examination to check for signs and symptoms of the flu. If necessary, they may order a test to detect the influenza virus. During the flu season, when infections are widespread, physicians rely on symptoms to identify the flu instead of ordering a lab test.

Flu (Influenza) Test

Although an influenza test is not mandatory, it gives a physician vital information required for your treatment.

It helps physicians make the following decisions:

  • Whether to initiate antiviral treatment

  • Perform further diagnostic tests

  • Implement prevention and control measures for flu

The influenza test is highly recommended for patients with suspected flu symptoms before admission. In case of an outbreak in a closed setting, e.g., factories, hospitals, long-term care facilities, summer camps, or boarding schools, the tests help determine if influenza is the cause of the epidemic.

Several terms that refer to flu tests include RIDT, Influenza antigen test, rapid flu test, and rapid influenza diagnostic test.

However, they can be broadly classified as follows:

Rapid Influenza Antigen Test

It’s a rapid test that can provide results in less than an hour (10-15 minutes) but is not as accurate as other tests. You can get a rapid test with a 50-70% sensitivity at the physician's office.

Recently, the FDA published new regulations that require a rapid test to have at least 80% sensitivity— a move meant to improve accuracy. The lower sensitivity of rapid tests forces physicians to use confirmatory tests like molecular flu tests during peak periods.

Molecular Flu Tests

Polymerase Chain Reaction(PCR) is the most common type of molecular test. It involves taking a sample fluid from your nose or mouth and submitting it to a lab for testing. Molecular flu tests have 90-95% specificity, which explains their high accuracy rate compared to rapid antigen tests.


An urgent care physician will prescribe a few antiviral medications if you have a severe infection or are at higher risk of complications.

The commonly prescribed medications include:

  • Oseltamivir

  • Baloxavir

  • Peramivir

  • Zanamivir

The above antiviral medications may bring side effects such as nausea and vomiting. However, you can reduce them by taking medication with food.

These lifestyle and home remedies will offer relief if you have mild flu symptoms.

  • Stay Hydrated: Take enough water, fresh juice, or soups to hydrate your body.

  • Rest: Get more sleep to afford your body enough rest to help your body recover from the infection. If your symptoms are severe, lower your activity levels to speed up recovery.

Beat the Flu: Get Prompt Treatment at Lifeline Urgent Care

Don’t let the flu put you down; act instead. Flu can result in severe symptoms, hospitalization, or fatalities. In addition, flu symptoms will prevent you from smashing your monthly or weekly targets.

With that in mind, seek timely care from an urgent care facility.

At Lifeline Urgent Care, we apply a unique approach to prevent the worsening of flu symptoms.

Contact us online or call us at 281.771.1144 to book an appointment.

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