What should I do if I think I have the flu?

If you've been in contact with someone who has the flu and you begin to experience flu-like symptoms, chances are you have the virus. Only your healthcare professional can diagnose your symptoms accurately, so it's important to call for an appointment as soon as your symptoms develop to see if you're a candidate for prescription antiviral medication.

If you think you've been exposed to someone who has the flu and you begin to experience symptoms, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) currently recommends you stay home and keep away from others as much as possible and avoid travel, work, school or public places for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone (without the use of fever-reducing medication), except to get medical care or for other necessities.

If you become severely ill or you are in one of the groups at high risk for complications, call your healthcare professional or seek medical treatment. High-risk groups for complications are: children younger than five, pregnant women, people of any age with certain chronic medical conditions like asthma, COPD, diabetes or heart disease, people who are immunosuppressed due to HIV infection or because they are taking immunosuppressive medications and people over age 65.

If you think you have the flu you should see your doctor as soon as possible. She may decide to do a test for the flu or may just treat you based on your symptoms. There are medications that can help you but they work best if started within 48 hours of the start of your symptoms. Even if your symptoms have been happening for more than two days, you should see your doctor. Drink lots of fluids, get plenty of rest and see a doctor immediately if you have  difficulty breathing.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.