6 Clear Symptoms of the Flu You Shouldn’t Ignore

Think it's the flu? Here's what to do

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If you think you have the flu, what to do next? Hole up until those flu symptoms pass, or make an emergency doctor's appointment? "If you are not in a high-risk group and your symptoms are mild you do not need to see your doctor or be treated with anti-viral medications," says Dr. Swap. High-risk groups include young children, people 65 and older, pregnant women, and those with certain other medical conditions. These groups are at an increased risk of developing flu-related complications, like pneumonia. "If however, you are having severe symptoms or are at high risk, consideration should be given to treating with anti-virals [such as Tamiflu or Relenza], as some studies indicate they may shorten duration or severity of symptoms," Dr. Swap adds. You should also see a doctor if you develop any warning signs. The CDC describes these as including difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen, sudden dizziness, confusion, severe or persistent vomiting, or recurring signs of the flu. For children, a doctor should also be consulted if they are not drinking enough fluids, become dehydrated, or become listless. Here's how you might be messing up your flu shot.

And here's what NOT to do

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If you think it's the flu, avoid contact with others. Don't try to power through your day at work, you'll only risk exposing your coworkers and others you come in contact with. If you must go out, for instance, to see a doctor, wear a face mask. "Influenza is highly contagious, and often debilitating and even deadly. It is estimated to cost the United States $10.4 billion annually in missed work and medical care. When you feel horrible it may not be foremost on your mind to prevent transmission but it is important nonetheless," Dr. Swap cautious. And remember, Dr. Swap says, "the best thing you can do to help prevent transmission is get your flu shot!" To prevent you and others from getting sick, follow these 14 anti-germ etiquette rules for flu season.

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