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Influenza (flu) is an infection in the respiratory tract. It is caused by the influenza virus. There are different strains of the flu virus from year to year. Unlike the common cold, the flu comes on suddenly, and the symptoms, such as a cough, congestion, fever, chills, fatigue, aches, and pains, are more severe. These symptoms may last up to 10 days. Although the flu can make you feel very sick, it usually does not cause serious health problems.
Home treatment is usually all you need for flu symptoms. But your doctor may prescribe antiviral medicine to prevent other health problems, such as pneumonia, from developing. Teens who have a long-term health condition, such as asthma, are more at risk for having pneumonia or other health problems.
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:
Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:
Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if:
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Current as of: February 24, 2020
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine
Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.
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