Question: When to seek medical treatment when you are ill

With winter coming up and colds and flus becoming more common, I'm interested to know: how do you know when to just stay home and rest and when to see a doctor? It's so expensive to see a GP that I don't want to make an appointment unnecessarily, so what are some of the symptoms to look out for?

Answer

The symptoms of colds and flu are very similar, with the exception that flu will have more severe symptoms such as fever, aching bones and even
vomiting and diarrhoea. Colds are called ‘common’ as they can occur at any time of the year, whereas flu is more seasonal. Call your doctor when you
first have symptoms if you’re at risk for complications from the flu. Those at risk for serious complications include:

* people over the age of 50
* pregnant women
* children under the age of 2
* those with weakened immune systems due to HIV/AIDS, steroid treatment, or chemotherapy
* people with chronic lung or heart conditions
* people with metabolic disorders such as diabetes, anemia, or kidney disease
* people living in long-term care facilities, such as nursing homes

Contact your doctor right away if your symptoms do not improve, or if they become severe. See a doctor if you have signs of pneumonia, including:

* trouble breathing
* severe sore throat
* cough that produces green mucus
* high, persistent fever
* chest discomfort

Monitor children closely, and seek prompt medical treatment if they develop the following symptoms:

* laboured breathing
* irritability
* lethargy
* refusing to eat or drink
* trouble awaking or interacting

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