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Treating The Flu: Doctor, Urgent Care, Or Emergency Room?

BOSTON (CBS) - Health officials say the flu season may be peaking which hopefully means that cases will soon start to decline. There's some evidence that this is happening in Massachusetts but only time will tell. That said it is still not too late to get a flu shot so please get one.

People with flu symptoms often wonder when they should just stay at home or when they should see a doctor.

If you have underlying medical conditions like asthma or heart disease or if you're pregnant and you think you have the flu, call your doctor. They may want to treat you with anti-viral medication.

Otherwise healthy older kids and adults can stay at home if they are doing well. Yes, you feel crummy but if you're managing your symptoms with fluids and fever relievers and pain reducers, you will probably be fine.

But even if you're generally healthy and you're becoming short of breath or you can't keep fluids down or you're getting dizzy, you need to be seen right away. You can call your doctor first to see if you can get a same day appointment but if you can't you should go to an urgent care. There are some urgent cares associated with hospitals, but there are also many free-standing urgent cares around town.

And when should you go to the ER? If you're short of breath or getting dehydrated and you don't have an urgent care nearby or it's the middle of the night and nothing is open, you should go to your local emergency room.

If you're really sick like you can't breathe, you can barely stand, you're having chest pain, call 9-1-1. That's what they are there for.

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