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Flu and Chronic Medical Conditions


When do I call the doctor for flu with a chronic medical condition?

Some doctors recommend that people with chronic disease always go to the doctor when they get the flu or a cold. Others think you can safely wait out these viruses with bed rest and fluids. But if you experience any of the following symptoms, you need to call your doctor:

  • You have trouble breathing.
  • Your symptoms don't improve or they get worse after three to four days.
  • After feeling a little better, you develop signs of a more serious problem. Some of these signs are a sick-to-your-stomach feeling, vomiting, high fever, shaking chills, chest pain, or coughing with thick, yellow-green mucus.

Seek emergency medical help for any difficulty breathing or chest pain.

For in-depth information, see WebMD's When to Call the Doctor About Flu.

When does flu season begin?

Flu season can begin as early as October and last as late as May.

October or November is the best time to get the flu vaccine, but you can still get vaccinated in January or later.

The flu shot becomes effective about two weeks after your vaccination.

Where can I get a flu shot?

The American Lung Association offers an online flu vaccine clinic locator. Visit Find a Flu Shot, enter a zip code and a date (or dates), and receive information about clinics scheduled in your area.

A nasal flu vaccine also exists. It is called FluMist and contains weakened live viruses. People with HIV/AIDS and other chronic medical conditions should not receive FluMist. Pregnant women should also not receive this form of the vaccine. It is approved for use only among healthy persons between the ages of 2 and 49 years.


WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by David T. Derrer, MD on August 16, 2014
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