Common questions about the flu: Do you know when to see a doctor?

Do you know how doctors test for the flu?

The common questions asked about the flu.
The common questions asked about the flu.

This year’s flu questions have come in two broad categories: practical and curious.

When should you see a doctor?

The most common practical question is when someone needs to see a doctor.

If you’re generally healthy and develop symptoms like an abrupt onset fever, cough and runny nose, you can probably manage at home with over-the-counter medications and several days of recovery.

If you’re not generally healthy, especially if you have any known respiratory problems like asthma, chronic obtrusive pulmonary disease or congestive heart failure, you’re at high risk for complications.

You might benefit from prescription antiviral medications that need to be started within 48 hours. If you’re in a high-risk group you should contact your doctor when you develop symptoms.

Regardless of whether you’re generally healthy or not, if you aren’t improving after five to seven days, you develop a high fever, shortness of breath, dehydration or other concerns, you should contact your doctor or come to the emergency room because you may have developed a complication of the flu.

How do doctors test for the flu?

Another practical question is how we test for the flu. The answer is that we take a swab from your nose. While it’s generally painless, to get the best sample we have to stick the swab up pretty far up the nose and it does feel pretty icky.

The most common curious question this year is simply what makes Influenza B the most common type this flu season. While it’s different from Influenza A, the simplest answer is Influenza B mostly only infects humans, which means it doesn’t change much year to year compared to Influenza A. Influenza A can shift drastically because it also infects animals. Influenza B primarily infects humans and doesn’t undergo much changes over time.

Most adults have developed some immunity but most children on the other hand have not. Influenza B like this one is disproportionately harder on kids.

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