When to Call Your Doctor About the Flu

If you are at special risk of complications, contact your doctor as soon as your symptoms begin. Those at increased risk for serious complications include persons who:

  • Are 50 years of age or older
  • Are a resident of a long-term care facility and have chronic medical conditions
  • Have chronic heart or lung conditions, including asthma
  • Have metabolic diseases including diabetes, kidney disease, anemia or other blood disorders
  • Have a weakened immune systems due to HIV/AIDS, cancer treatment or steroid therapy
  • Are between 6 months and 18 years of age and receive long-term aspirin therapy
  • Will be in the second or third trimester of pregnancy during flu season
  • Are 6 months to 2 years of age

If you are otherwise healthy and not at increased risk of complications, seek medical advice if your flu symptoms are unusually severe, such as:

  • Trouble breathing
  • A severe sore throat
  • A cough that produces a lot of green or yellow mucus
  • Feeling faint

Also, see your doctor immediately if you think you might have signs or symptoms of pneumonia, which may include a severe cough that brings up phlegm, a high fever and a sharp pain when you breathe deeply.

For Children

Parents, do not hesitate to contact your child's doctor if you have concerns about the flu, questions about your child's symptoms or if you think your child should receive the flu vaccine. The doctor will be able to answer your questions and go over information specific for your child's age as well as any pre-existing conditions he or she may have.

Take your child to the pediatrician or to the emergency department if he or she displays any of the following symptoms:

  • Rapid or labored breathing
  • Bluish skin color
  • Not drinking enough to maintain hydration
  • Not waking up or interacting
  • Irritability to the point that he or she doesn't want to be held

Also consult a doctor if your child's flu symptoms improve but then return and include a fever and worse cough.


Reviewed by health care specialists at UCSF Medical Center.

This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of your doctor or health care provider. We encourage you to discuss with your doctor any questions or concerns you may have.

Related Information

UCSF Clinics & Centers

Primary Care

Family Medicine at Lakeshore
1569 Sloat Blvd., Suite 333
San Francisco, CA 94132
New Patient Appointments:
(844) 727-8273 (PCP-UCSF)
Phone: (415) 353-9339
Fax: (415) 353-3450

General Internal Medicine at Post Street
1545 Divisadero St., First and Second Floors
San Francisco, CA 94115
New Patient Appointments:
(844) 727-8273 (PCP-UCSF)
Office: (415) 353–7900
Fax, First Floor: (415) 353–2583
Fax, Second Floor: (415) 353–2640

Center for Geriatric Care
3575 Geary Boulevard, First Floor
San Francisco, CA 94118
New Patient Appointments:
(844) 727-8273 (PCP-UCSF)
Office: (415) 353-4900
Fax: (415) 353-8101

Primary Care at Laurel Village
3490 California Street, Suite 200
San Francisco, CA 94118
New Patient Appointments:
(844) 727-8273 (PCP-UCSF)
Office: (415) 514-6200
Fax: (415) 514-6410

Screening and Acute Care
400 Parnassus Ave., First Floor
San Francisco, CA 94122
Phone: (415) 353-2602
Fax: (415) 353-2699