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Flu (Influenza)

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Diagnosis and Treatment

Most people with the flu recover on their own without medical care or antiviral drugs. People with mild cases of the flu should stay home and avoid contact with others, except to get medical care.

People who are at greater risk of serious flu-related complications—including young children, elderly people, pregnant women, and people with certain medical conditions—should contact a healthcare provider if flu symptoms develop.

Healthcare providers will determine whether a laboratory influenza test or treatments are needed. Antiviral drugs, which work best when started soon after flu symptoms appear, may also prevent serious complications.

Flu is usually diagnosed in a particular patient based on whether the disease is currently epidemic in the patient's community and whether the patient's complaints fit the current pattern of symptoms. During an epidemic, providers rarely use laboratory tests to identify the virus. Local, state, and national health officials, however, monitor certain U.S. health clinics and do laboratory tests to determine which type of flu virus is responsible for the epidemic.

Last Updated November 16, 2012