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For most, the flu is a short-lived illness, but it can lead to serious health problems in others. In the US, the flu is responsible for an estimated 200,000 hospitalisations every year.
Most cases of flu don’t require a visit to the doctor, and the symptoms are best managed at home. However, some people are more prone to flu complications than others - complications that need medical treatment. This means that it’s not always obvious when you can take care of yourself at home and when you should see a doctor.
Do you know how to tell when it’s time to see a doctor for the flu? Read on to find out.
Common flu symptoms include:
If you’re generally healthy and don’t fit into a high-risk group for flu, these symptoms shouldn’t be cause for concern. It’s perfectly fine to stay at home and rest in bed while you recover. Try to keep yourself warm and drink plenty of fluids.
You can also take painkillers like paracetamol to help bring down your temperature and ease any aches and pains you may have. Speak to your pharmacist or doctor for further guidance on whether to use these medications and how to get and use them.
Sometimes the flu can cause complications that require medical care.
See a doctor if you have:
If you're in a high-risk group for the flu, you may be more vulnerable to health complications. See a doctor as soon as you notice symptoms. A doctor may recommend you take antiviral medication.
You may be in a high-risk group for the flu if you:
Getting the flu vaccine every year is also recommended to prevent further episodes of the flu.
It’s possible to develop more severe symptoms from the flu. These symptoms require immediate medical attention. Go to the emergency department or call an ambulance if you:
If you’re still not sure whether or not you should see a doctor, our symptom checker can help you decide.
Important: Our website provides useful information but is not a substitute for medical advice. You should always seek the advice of your doctor when making decisions about your health.