Emergency Department QA

Q: How do I know when a cold or the flu has turned into something more serious? When do I seek medical attention?

When a person has a cold or flu and then seems to be getting worse instead of better after three or four days, it is time to get checked.

Pneumonia, an infection of the lungs, usually affects children younger than 2, adults age 65 or older and people with chronic health problems. The condition can range from mild to life-threatening.

You may develop bacterial pneumonia after a cold or the flu; if your pneumonia is serious, you could be hospitalized. The symptoms of viral and bacterial pneumonia are often very similar. People tend to be sicker with the bacterial type, but any time we diagnose pneumonia, we treat with antibiotics because there is no quick way to distinguish between the two.

CALL 911 OR GO TO THE EMERGENCY ROOM if you have these symptoms: Significant pain with breathing; continuous coughing or mild to severe wheezing; fever higher than 101 degrees and stiff neck; severe headache; choking or gasping for air; inability to swallow; bluish lips or nails.

For more information on Fauquier’s emergency services, visit our Emergency Department page.

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