How to Treat the Flu: When You Need Urgent Care

Sick woman sitting up in bed under a blanket, blowing nose, and drinking tea.

With the flu affecting up to 11% of Americans each year, and children at the highest risk of contraction, it is essential to understand how to recognize the symptoms, care for yourself at home, and seek medical attention at an urgent care facility or emergency room if needed.

What is the flu?

The flu, or influenza, is a highly transmissible virus that spreads from one person to another by droplets in the air caused by an infected person coughing and sneezing.

The flu is most prevalent in the winter months, when people are more commonly found indoors and closer together. Unlike the common cold or COVID-19, the onset of the flu is rapid, with symptoms appearing abruptly.

Recognizing flu symptoms

Flu symptoms vary by case and range from mild to severe, though most cases are considered moderate.

The most common flu symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Body aches
  • Headaches
  • Stuffy or runny nose
  • Sore throat
  • Weakness and fatigue

Gastrointestinal issues are also relatively common in children and include nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. High fevers are common but do not have to be present in every influenza diagnosis.

Those with increased chances of flu complications

We encourage you to speak with your doctor directly if you are at higher risk for flu complications and believe you have the flu. People in the higher risk group include:

  • Adults 65 and older
  • Young children
  • Pregnant women, including up to two weeks postpartum
  • People with disabilities
  • Those with chronic medical conditions such as diabetes, asthma, heart disease, cancer, HIV/AIDS, or kidney disease.

Whether you’re considered high-risk or simply finding yourself under the weather, knowing exactly how to treat the flu is vital to your overall healing. Read on to learn about ways to treat the flu and mitigate your symptoms.

How to treat the flu

There are various at-home and prescription-based ways to help with flu treatment. When combined, they can work to mitigate symptoms and reduce the overall timeline of your diagnosis.

At-home remedies for the flu

Reducing your symptoms is the best way to start feeling better sooner.

Some of the best at-home remedies for the flu include:

  • Drinking plenty of fluids
  • Staying home and getting plenty of rest
  • Taking over-the-counter medications such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen, or cold and flu options that treat various symptoms
  • Running a humidifier
  • Using throat lozenges to reduce persistent cough and sore throat pain

Antiviral Flu Treatment

In moderate to severe flu cases, your doctor may prescribe antiviral medication to treat your symptoms. They work best when started within the first 1 to 3 days of getting sick. Taking them after this period is still beneficial and recommended for those at higher risk of developing complications.

There are four FDA-approved antiviral drugs recommended by CDC to treat flu this season, and they include:

  • Oseltamivir phosphate (Tamiflu® or generic equivalent),
  • Zanamivir (Relenza®)
  • Peramivir (Rapivab®), and
  • Baloxavir marboxil (Xofluza®)

When to visit Coastal Urgent Care of Baton Rouge

If your flu symptoms persist or get worse as the days go on, it may be time to visit your local urgent care facility for more intensive treatment.

Seek medical treatment immediately if:

  • Symptoms last more than 5 days
  • You have a high fever (100 degrees in babies, 102 degrees in children 1 year and older, or 103 degrees in adults)
  • Symptoms worsen over time

Coastal Urgent Care of Baton Rouge has an experienced team of specialists who can effectively diagnose and treat your flu symptoms. Don’t delay treatment.  We welcome walk-in appointments 7 days a week.