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Urgent care for cold and flu treatment

The common cold or flu can leave you feeling under the weather. Our urgent care centers are here 365 days a year to help you feel better from the cold or flu. Find your closest center, walk in or save your spot online to get started. 

woman sick with flu

Cold and flu symptoms

Achy, fever, coughing and sneezing? You’re likely experiencing upper respiratory infection symptoms, but is it a cold, the flu or COVID-19? It can be hard to tell. Symptoms of any of these respiratory illnesses could include:

  • Body or muscle aches
  • Chills
  • Cough
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Runny nose
  • Sore throat
  • Vomiting or diarrhea

Each of our centers is equipped to evaluate flu and cold symptoms in adults and children in order to provide the diagnosis and treatment needed. Visit one of our centers or schedule a Virtual Urgent Care visit for the same great care from home. We are here for you 365 days a year, seven days a week.

Difference between cold, flu and COVID-19

Are you experiencing cold symptoms? Or are they flu symptoms? What is the difference between a cold and the flu? What about COVID-19, which can also have similar symptoms to other respiratory illnesses? 

The common cold, the flu and COVID-19 are caused by different viruses. A number of different viruses generally cause colds, whereas the flu is only caused by the influenza A or influenza B viruses. The SARS-CoV-2 virus causes COVID-19. While many cold and flu symptoms may overlap, some important distinctions exist between these common upper respiratory infections.

The only way to know which of these viruses you have is to test for a specific virus. While there is no specific test for a common cold, you can be tested for the flu or COVID-19. Your healthcare provider will help determine if you should be tested and what the best care plan will be for your specific symptoms and condition.

Common cold

A cold is generally milder than the flu. Symptoms are frequently concentrated in the head and nose, such as a headache or runny nose. While fever is common in children with colds, it should generally not be present in adults, and its presence should prompt medical evaluation.

Influenza

The flu may have similar symptoms, but they are usually more severe. You may experience a fever, extreme fatigue, sore throat and severe body aches with the flu. Complications from the flu can be more severe than a cold, potentially resulting in hospitalization or even death.

COVID-19

COVID-19 also has symptoms similar to colds or influenza, which makes it even more important to see a healthcare provider to assess your symptoms. A COVID-19 test is the safest bet when it comes to cold and flu symptoms, as the level of symptom severity depends on the individual.

Child coughing

Cold and flu treatment for children

Children tend to have respiratory illness more often than adults, especially during cold and flu season. Children have developing immune systems and tend to spend more time in communal settings with other children, putting them at greater risk of catching a cold or flu.

Children and adults may experience similar cold and flu symptoms, but vomiting and diarrhea are more common in children with respiratory illnesses.

Sometimes, children can become severely ill with the flu and may need additional treatment. You may need to take your child to the emergency department if they have one or more of the following symptoms: 

  • Lethargy or complete lack of energy.
  • Fever of over 102° F for more than three days that does not improve with medications. 
  • Fever over 105° F at any time.
  • The child does not urinate for over eight hours or has fewer than three wet diapers in a day
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing. 
  • The skin around the ribs is getting sucked in, called retractions, when your child inhales.

If the symptoms are not severe, but you are still concerned, you can visit any of our urgent care centers for an evaluation by one of our providers.

Treating a cold or flu at home is possible. Start by ensuring they get plenty of rest, using a humidifier, gargling with salt water, or taking a teaspoon of honey for children over one year old to soothe a cough or sore throat. 

Avoid using adult over-the-counter cold and flu or cough medications for children before speaking with your doctor. Children’s acetaminophen (brand name Tylenol) or ibuprofen (brand name Motrin or Advil) can be used for fever and pain relief if needed. 

Just make sure your child does not receive a dose of either of these medications more frequently than recommended on the bottle. Ibuprofen (Children’s Motrin) should never be used in children younger than six months of age.

woman taking antibiotics with water

Cold and flu medicine to have on hand

While there is no single best cold and flu medicine for adults, most over-the-counter medications offer temporary relief or reduction of symptoms but are not considered cold and flu treatments, as there is no cure for viral illnesses. A few medications you may want to have on hand during cold and flu season may include:

Antihistamines:

Cetirizine, diphenhydramine, fexofenadine, loratadine

Cough suppressants:

Dextromethorphan

Decongestants:

Pseudoephedrine, phenylephrine

Pain relievers/fever reducers:

Acetaminophen, aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen

Woman sick at computer

Visit urgent care for cold and flu treatment

The sooner you are seen by a provider, the better. Given some flu treatments and medication are only effective early on during the infection. At all of our urgent care centers, our healthcare providers help diagnose and treat upper respiratory infections so you can feel better faster. We offer treatment for more than just colds and the flu. We can also help with the following:

  • Asthma
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • Food allergies
  • Laryngitis
  • Bronchitis
  • Mononucleosis
  • Seasonal allergies
  • Sinusitis
  • Strep throat

If you are unsure about your symptoms, are at high risk or your symptoms are getting worse, we can help. Just stop by any of our convenient centers, save your spot online, or schedule a Virtual Urgent Care visit. We are open 365 days a year and are here to help you feel better. 

Frequently asked questions

Frequently asked questions

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