Good things to know about the flu. How is it diagnosed? How is it treated? Can it be prevented?
How is the flu diagnosed?
Your doctor will ask you about your symptoms and examine you. This usually gives the doctor enough information to find out if you have the flu, especially if many cases of a similar illness have occurred in the area and the local health department reports a flu outbreak.
In some cases, the doctor may do a blood test or take a sample of fluid from your nose or throat to find out what type of flu virus you have.
How is it treated?
Most people can treat flu symptoms at home. Home treatment includes resting, drinking plenty of fluids, and taking medicine to lower your fever.
If you think you have the flu, your doctor may be able to give you medicine that can make the symptoms milder. But you need to start taking it within 2 days of your first symptoms.
Can the flu be prevented?
You can help prevent the flu by getting the flu vaccine every year. It's best to get the vaccine as soon as it's available. You can get the vaccine as a shot or in a spray that you breathe in through your nose.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone 6 months old and older should get a flu vaccine. The vaccine is especially important for people who are at higher risk of problems from the flu, including:1
Children 6 months through 4 years of age.
Adults ages 50 and older.
Adults and children who have long-term health problems or an impaired immune system.
Women who will be pregnant during the flu season.
The flu vaccine is also recommended for health care workers and anyone who lives or works with a person who is at higher risk of problems from the flu. Your doctor can help you decide if the flu vaccine is a good choice for you.
The vaccine usually prevents most cases of the flu. But even if you do get the flu after you've had the vaccine, your symptoms will be milder and you'll have less chance of problems from the flu. You cannot get the flu from the flu vaccine.