Published on January 02, 2018

When to Seek Emergency Medical Help for Flu

The flu virus continues to spread across the U.S., with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) closely tracking the number of confirmed cases and urging stringent precautions to minimize its impact. Pottstown Memorial Medical Center continues to see flu-symptomatic patients in the emergency room and numerous patients have been admitted for treatment of flu-related complications.

While most people will be able to endure the flu’s effects on their bodies and recover, others are at high risk for suffering complications and needing emergency intervention. Individuals at a higher risk include babies and children, the elderly, those with compromised immune systems, and individuals with lung disease – such as asthma, chronic bronchitis, emphysema, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

“Beyond feeling miserable, flu can develop into something much more serious, particularly for individuals who are at higher risk," said Sonya Foster-Merrow, M.D., a Family Practice physician at Berks Family Care. “It’s important for these individuals to be monitored closely so they receive timely medical help if needed.”

Unlike a cold, the flu typically comes on suddenly. The most common symptoms are fever or feeling feverish/chills, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches, fatigue and vomiting and diarrhea.

If you suspect you have the flu virus, the CDC recommends seeking care from your doctor or an urgent care clinic, where you can be tested and receive a prescription for antiviral medication to minimize the intensity and duration of your symptoms. These medications work best when taken within 48 hours of becoming ill, but can still be beneficial when given later in the course of illness.

When you or someone for whom you’re caring experiences any of the following symptoms – the CDC recommends seeking help from the closest emergency department:


  • Trouble breathing
  • No tears when crying
  • Significantly fewer wet diapers than normal


  • Fast breathing or trouble breathing
  • Bluish skin color
  • Not drinking enough fluids
  • Not waking up or not interacting
  • Being so irritable that the child does not want to be held
  • Symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough
  • Fever with a rash


  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
  • Sudden dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Severe or persistent vomiting
  • Flu-like symptoms that improve but then return with fever and worse cough

“Flu can become deadly, so it’s important to act promptly if these symptoms appear," said Dr. Foster-Merrow. “And it’s still not too late to get a flu shot this year, which can lessen your chances of getting sick.”

For more information on the flu, visit the special flu section at POTTSTOWNMEMORIAL.COM. To find a primary care doctor visit the “Find a Doctor” link on the home page.

About Us
Pottstown Memorial Medical Center, a 232-bed, acute care hospital, is accredited by The Joint Commission. The medical staff includes 260 physicians representing 40 medical specialties and is committed to serving the healthcare needs of residents in Pottstown and the surrounding areas.

The hospital offers a full range of health services including inpatient and outpatient, medical and surgical, and diagnostic and emergency care, to name a few. A continuum of care is provided to patients through a dedicated team of physicians, nurses, staff and volunteers. Pottstown Memorial Medical Center strives to exceed patient expectations, while delivering compassionate, safe, quality care.


2014 Top Performers on Key Quality Measures by The Joint Commission


  • Joint Commission Gold Seal of Approval for Hip and Knee replacement.
  • Blue Distinction Center for Hip and Knee from Independence Blue Cross

Primary Stroke Center:

  • Joint Commission Gold Seal of Approval
  • Gold Distinction, AHA Stroke Association Get with the Guidelines

Regional Cancer Center:

  • Four time recipient of Accreditation with Commendation by the American College of Surgeons.