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Seasonal Flu: When to Seek Medical Care

Seasonal Flu: When to Seek Medical Care

2/1/2013
Influenza can cause serious illness
 

Symptoms
Seasonal flu symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Diarrhea and vomiting can also occur.

Avoid contact with others
If you are sick, you may be ill for a week or longer. You should stay home and keep away from others as much as possible, including avoiding travel and not going to work or school, for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone except to get medical care or for other necessities. (Your fever should be gone without the use of fever-reducing medicine.)  If you leave the house to seek medical care, wear a facemask, if available and tolerable, and cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue. In general, you should avoid contact with other people as much as possible to keep from spreading your illness, especially people at increased risk of severe illness from influenza. With seasonal flu, people may be contagious from one day before they develop symptoms to up to 7 days after they get sick. Children, especially younger children, might potentially be contagious for longer periods.

Treatment is available especially for those who have the potential to become seriously ill, especially infants,  elderly, and the immune suppressed.  It is expected that most people will recover without needing medical care.  However, If you have severe illness or are at high risk for complications, call your healthcare provider or seek medical care.   Also, If you have fever or re-occurring symptoms, call your healthcare provider, and s/he will determine if flu testing or treatment is needed.

For relief of fever, fever reducing medications are recommended such as acetaminophen or non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.  Stay well hydrated and get plenty of rest.

Emergency Warning Signs
If you or your family member becomes ill and experiences any of the following warning signs, seek emergency medical care:

CHILDREN-emergency warning signs that need urgent medical attention include:
Fast breathing or trouble breathing
Bluish or gray skin color
Not drinking enough fluids
Severe or persistent vomiting
Not waking up or not interacting
Being so irritable that the child does not want to be held
Flu-like symptoms improve but then start to return with fever and worse cough

ADULTS-emergency warning signs that need urgent medical attention include:
Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
Sudden dizziness
Confusion
Severe or persistent vomiting
Flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough
 

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