Have the flu? When should you see a doctor?

Have the flu? When should you see a doctor?

We are in the midst of a dangerous flu season! Does it seems like you’re hearing (or in this case, reading) about it?

You’ve probably heard about the young and otherwise healthy people who are becoming very sick — and even dying — from the flu. These are rare cases, but they raise the question of when you need medical care and when you can just care for yourself at home.

Kaiser Permanente physician, John Dunn, MD, offers some guidelines on how you can decide.

“If you think you have the flu, it’s smart to get medical help soon if you have a condition like asthma, diabetes, HIV, cancer, or other chronic conditions that put you at high risk of complications,” says Dr. Dunn. “People over 65 and women who are pregnant also should get medical attention. Antiviral medication can be given to help protect people who are at high risk for serious problems from the flu, but ideally it should be given within 2 days of getting sick or it may not do any good.”

Signs that it’s time for anyone to get medical care include:

Trouble breathing
Chest or stomach pain
Dizziness or lightheadedness
Severe vomiting
High fever that doesn’t break after taking fever reducers
Dehydration (urinating less frequently, having trouble keeping fluids down, feeling thirsty)
Return of symptoms after a time of feeling better

Emergency medical care is needed for kids if:

Their lips or skin appear bluish
They can’t wake up or talk to you
They have a high fever with a rash

“Getting a flu shot lowers your chances of getting sick, and it’s not too late to get vaccinated this year,” says Dr. Dunn. “If you do get sick, you’re less likely to have a severe case. And, with a flu shot, the chances that you’ll spread the flu to others in your home and community is reduced.”

Remember these tips to help avoid getting sick:

Wash your hands often and keeping them away from your eyes, nose, and mouth
Eat healthy foods
Get plenty of exercise and rest