Is It More Than a Cold?

November 2017

Sometimes, colds and flu can lead to complications in seniors, such as secondary infections of the sinuses (sinusitis) or lungs (bronchitis, pneumonia). They also can result in worsening of underlying medical conditions, such as heart disease, lung disease or diabetes. When should you see your doctor?

If you are at high risk for complications from the flu. This includes:

  • If you are age 65 or older
  • If you have a chronic medical condition such as heart disease, lung disease, asthma, diabetes, cancer or HIV

If you have any “red flag” symptoms. These require urgent medical attention. Call your doctor, go to the urgent care center or head straight for the emergency room if it’s after hours. In older adults, red flags include:

  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • High or prolonged fever
  • Chest pain or pressure
  • Confusion
  • Severe or prolonged vomiting
  • Fainting or near-fainting

Source: UCLA Health at University of California, Los Angeles

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