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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. 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.

Treatment that may shorten the time that you have symptoms is available if you are able to have a doctor evaluation within the first 48 hours of your symptoms. Most people who get the "flu" do not use antiviral medicines, because they are expensive and they can cause side effects such as nausea, vomiting, cough or wheeze, headache, and nose or throat irritation.

Influenza is very contagious, so any other individual who has close contact with you during the time you have symptoms may get the same 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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