Flu: When should you see a doctor?
There’s still a widely held belief that seeing the doctor is pointless when you have flu.
This belief has been perpetuated by the fact that in most cases, there isn’t a lot doctors can do about viral infections, and influenza is viral. But it can be treated.
Prescription antiviral drugs Trusted Source exist that can help to eliminate the flu sooner and reduce the severity of symptoms. They are especially beneficial to those at risk Trusted Source of developing severe flu complications.
“There are four FDA (Food and Drug Administration) approved antiviral medications for treatment of the flu,” Grayson said.
“These drugs have been shown to lessen length of illness but also decrease complications, including ear infection, respiratory complications, and hospitalization,” she said.
So how soon after you notice flu symptoms should you call a doctor? “For influenza treatment, the sooner the better,” Moore said.
According to Grayson, these symptoms warrant making that call:
fevers greater than 100.5°F (38°C) degrees
nausea or vomiting
But the greatest opportunity for preventing the development of the flu altogether still comes from getting your flu shot.
“One thing I stress to people is that if you don’t care about influenza for yourself, still think of those around you,” said Moore. “I get a yearly influenza vaccine more to protect my family, my workplace, and my community than myself. You don’t want to be visiting an elderly parent or giving it to young kids who then may have a more serious illness.”
He acknowledged that experts don’t always know how well the vaccine will work from year to year, “but it is always safer to get it.”
If you still get the flu, Moore said, “Go in to be tested and then stay home. You wouldn’t want to have a co-worker infected with the flu come into the office and give the virus to you.”
The same goes for sending kids to school with the flu. The CDCTrusted Source recommends staying home for at least 24 hours after your fever has subsided without using fever-reducing medications.