I Think I Have the Flu. What Next?

man ill with the flu with a tissueIf you are experiencing any of the following symptoms, you may have the flu. 

  • Fever (or feverish symptoms like the chills)
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue (tiredness)
  • Possible vomiting and diarrhea (more common in children)

Follow the important steps below to decrease the severity of your symptoms and prevent others from catching the flu as well. 

Step 1: Pay Attention

Be aware of how you feel. Certain strains of the flu may affect you more quickly. For example, you may wake up feeling the slight beginnings of a cold. However, by mid-afternoon, those symptoms could be significantly worse.

Step 2: Stay Home and Get Tested!

If you have a fever or other flu-like symptoms, do the following:

Stay home from work, school, and other obligations. You should also keep any potentially sick children Man getting tested for covid-19 with nose swabhome as well. Remember: You play an important role in community (aka herd) immunity and that means preventing fellow co-workers, neighbors, and loved ones from coming into contact with any droplets you might be spreading – whether they contain the flu, COVID-19, or another respiratory virus. Feeling severe symptoms? Skip to Step 4 below.

Get tested for COVID-19. The flu and COVID-19 share many symptoms – but COVID-19 has a higher mortality rate (about 20 times more deadly than the flu). These two illnesses are also treated much differently. Plus, it’s important to confirm what you have so others you’ve come into contact with can be notified. Use the button below to find a COVID-19 testing place near you.

Where to Get Tested for Covid-19

Includes free testing resources!

Step 3: Call your family doctor or primary care provider (PCP)

Let your family doctor or health care provider know the results of your test so he/she can prescribe the right treatment for your illness. If your provider diagnoses you with the flu, he/she will likely prescribe plenty of rest, fluids, and possibly medicine to help your body fight the influenza virus.

Depending on your severity of symptoms, your doctor might prescribe “antivirals,” which can help you feel better faster and have been shown to prevent serious complications. If you have COVID-19, many helpful treatments exist, including monoclonal antibody therapy. Remember to take it easy and do exactly as your provider has advised. 

Questions or concerns in the meantime? Or maybe you don’t have a primary care provider? Ask a Nurse! You can speak to one of our registered nurses about your symptoms daily from 7 am to 11 pm by calling 231-935-0951.

Step 4: If your symptoms are severe…

woman calling the doctor about her sick son with the fluDepending on the severity of your symptoms, it is important to seek immediate medical attention at one of our urgent care/walk-in clinics or emergency rooms– especially if you are in a high-risk group, or you feel severe symptoms, such as:

  • Your fever is increasing
  • You cannot walk
  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • Confusion
  • Inability to stay awake or wake up
  • Bluish lips or face

Not sure what to do?

Call our free Ask-A-Nurse line at 231-935-0951, available daily, 7 am – 11 pm. A Munson Healthcare registered nurse is on standby, ready to can direct you to the right care. Our nurses can even help connect you to our Find-A-Doc service if you don’t have a primary care provider.

Step 5: Stop the Spread

In addition to your treatment plan, use the following measures to keep others around you from getting ill – including those who live with you. 

Mask up and practice physical distancing. Next to vaccines, wearing a mask and staying six feet or more away from others is the second single most important way to stop the spread of illnesses. Masking doesn’t just help stop the spread of COVID-19 but flu viruses, RSV in children.

Handwashing. Wash your hands for approximately 20 seconds with water (any temperature) and soap. If you don’t have access to water, use a hand sanitizer made up of at least 60 percent alcohol.

Guard your coughs. Cough into a tissue when possible and throw it away immediately. If you can't access a tissue, cough into your arm/elbow rather than your hand(s), which prevents droplets from your body coming into immediate contact with anything you touch.

Avoid touching your face. Do your best to avoid touching your eyes, mouth, or nose with unwashed hands.