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How is flu diagnosed?

For many people, the flu won’t need a diagnosis or medical treatment. As it’s caused by a virus, antibiotics won’t help.

If you are fit and healthy then you will usually just need to rest at home until you recover, which usually takes around a week. Here are some self-care measures you can try whilst you’re getting better:

  • stay at home and get plenty of rest and sleep
  • drink lots of fluid to prevent dehydration
  • keep yourself warm
  • take over-the-counter painkillers to help with the symptoms
  • treat your cough with over-the-counter medication if you wish

Should I see a GP about the flu?

Some people are at higher risks of complications from the flu. You should speak to a doctor if you have flu and you are pregnant, over the age of 65 or if your symptoms don’t get better after a week. If you have a chronic condition, such as diabetes, heart disease or asthma, or a weakened immune system, you should also see a GP.

If your baby or child is showing severe flu symptoms, or if you’re worried about them, you should see a GP for more advice.

If you start coughing up blood, have chest pain or breathing difficulties, go to A&E or call 999 urgently.

How to prevent spreading the flu

You should also take steps to minimise the chances of passing the flu on to other people, as it is contagious. Try to:

  • cough or sneeze into a tissue and throw these away immediately
  • wash your hands immediately after sneezing or coughing
  • stay away from other people, and stay off school or work whilst you recover
  • don’t share things like cutlery, and wash down contaminated surfaces to kill germs

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