When and where to seek care

By TMC Healthcare

‘Tis the season…Flu season, that is. And it is in full swing.

The Arizona Department of Health Services recently reported flu cases are three times higher than this time last year.

With that in mind, here’s what you need to know about the flu, from symptoms to if and when you should go to your doctor, urgent care or the emergency department.

What are symptoms of the flu?

The flu and common cold share some common symptoms such as a runny nose, congestion, a sore throat and cough. However, cold symptoms are usually milder and come on gradually, whereas flu symptoms start more abruptly.

If you have the flu, additional symptoms may include fever, body aches, chills, fatigue, weakness, chest discomfort and headache.

When to see your doctor

If you get sick with flu symptoms and are at high risk of complications or you are concerned about your illness, call your doctor for advice.

Those at high risk for flu-related complications include young children, people age 65 and older, pregnant women and people with certain medical conditions such as diabetes and conditions that compromise the immune system.

When to go to urgent care

If you’re concerned about your illness and are at high risk for flu complications and can’t get in to see your doctor, go to urgent care.

When to go to the emergency department

The emergency department should only be used by people who are very sick and are exhibiting emergency warning signs such as difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen, sudden dizziness, confusion, severe or persistent vomiting or flu-like symptoms that improve but then return with fever and worse cough.

In children, emergent symptoms are fast breathing or trouble breathing, bluish skin color, not drinking enough fluids, not waking up or interacting, being so irritable that the child doesn’t want to be held and fever with a rash.

Stay home

If you’re not facing emergent symptoms, you should stay home.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that you stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone except to get medical care and necessities if needed. Until that happens, stay home from work, school, shopping, social events and public gatherings.

The CDC also recommends anyone under age 18 who has the flu should not be given aspirin or any products containing salicylate, such as Pepto Bismol, as it can cause Reye’s syndrome, a rare disease that causes brain and liver damage.


If you think you need medical advice, but don’t want to leave the house, consider TMC Now, which allows you to see a doctor face-to-face anytime, no matter where you are, using the camera on your phone or computer. The doctor can diagnose, recommend treatment and prescribe medication if necessary. Virtual visits are $49. Visit tmcaz.com/tmcnow to learn more.