Influenza (Seasonal Flu) (cont.)
IN THIS ARTICLE
What Increases Your Risk
Anyone exposed to an influenza (flu) virus can become infected. These viruses are contagious and spread easily among people in groups, such as in nursing homes, hospitals, shelters, schools, and day cares. Working, visiting, or living in any of these areas increases your risk of getting the flu.
The risk of having severe symptoms and complications is higher for:
When To Call a Doctor
Call your doctor if:
In most healthy people, the flu will go away in 5 to 7 days, although fatigue can last much longer. Although you may feel very sick, home treatment is usually all that is needed. If it is flu season, you may just want to treat your symptoms at home. Watch closely for symptoms of a bacterial infection, such as nasal drainage that changes from clear to colored after 5 to 7 days and symptoms that return or get worse.
Early treatment (within 48 hours of your first symptoms) with antiviral medicines may reduce the severity of influenza and may prevent serious flu-related complications.2 Babies, older adults, and people who have chronic health problems are more likely to have complications from the flu, and they may need to see a doctor for care beyond home treatment. But not all antiviral medicines work against all strains of the flu. Talk to your doctor if you think you may need an antiviral medicine.
Call your doctor if you think your symptoms are caused by something other than the flu.
Who to see
These health professionals can diagnose and treat the flu:
A doctor who specializes in treating infectious diseases may be needed if the diagnosis is not clear or if severe complications develop.
To prepare for your appointment, see the topic Making the Most of Your Appointment.
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