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Symptom Checker

Step 4: Read and complete the decision guide to learn more about your symptoms.

Coughs and Colds

You may have an infection with "flu" (influenza virus). Your symptoms are likely to persist for a total of four or five days, but they may last for longer than a week. Please be considerate about exposing others. Take a few days off work, wear a mask and wash your hands.

Most people who develop the flu do not need to visit their doctor. The antiviral medicines that are sometimes used against influenza do not appear to have any benefit when they are initiated later than 48 hours after the start of your symptoms, so they are not recommended for you. If you are short of breath and have flu symptoms, you will require evaluation. In this case your doctor will evaluate the possibility that you have influenza and will also consider the possibility that you may have a bacterial pneumonia or viral bronchitis. Notify the doctors' office staff when you arrive that you may have the flu, so they can provide you with a mask and expedite your move out of the shared waiting area.

Influenza is very contagious, so any other individual who has had close contact with you during the time you have symptoms could get your infection. If that individual is concerned about influenza, he or she may wish to speak with a doctor about medicines that can prevent some cases of influenza. The drugs for flu can cause side effects and they only have clear benefit if they are taken within 48 hours of exposure.

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