How do I know if I have the flu? Where do I go for care?

Kayla Ericksen, BSN, RN, Infection Preventionist
Stethascope

How I do know if I have the flu?

You may have the flu if you have some or all of these symptoms:

  • Fever*
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Body aches
  • Headache
  • Chills
  • Fatigue
  • Sometimes diarrhea and vomiting

*It’s important to note that not everyone with flu will have a fever.

What should I do if I get sick?

Most people with the flu have mild illness and do not need medical care or antiviral drugs. If you get sick with flu symptoms, in most cases, you should stay home and avoid contact with other people except to get medical care.

If, however, you have symptoms of flu and are in a high risk group, or are very sick or worried about your illness, contact your healthcare provider (doctor, physician assistant, etc.).

Certain people are at high risk of serious flu-related complications (including young children, people 65 and older, pregnant women and people with certain medical conditions). If you are in a high risk group and develop flu symptoms, it’s best for you to contact your healthcare provider early in your illness.

Do I need to go the emergency department if I am only a little sick?

No. The emergency department should be used for people who are very sick. You should not go to the emergency department if you are only mildly ill.

If you have the emergency warning signs of flu sickness, you should go to the emergency department. If you get sick with flu symptoms and are at high risk of flu complications or you are concerned about your illness, call your healthcare provider for advice. If you go to the emergency department and you are not sick with the flu, you may catch it from people who do have it.

What are the emergency warning signs of flu sickness?

  • In children: 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, flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough or fever with a rash.
  • In adults: 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.

For more information on influenza, visit www.cdc.gov.

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