HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - Medical experts say it's important to remember that the flu is not the common cold, it's much more dangerous. The flu can even be fatal. That's the reason it's important to contain it, whenever and wherever possible.
Those that are most vulnerable to the flu are the young, transplant patients, the elderly, and people with a lot of health conditions.
"If they're already dealing with sicknesses, adding the flu on top of those conditions can be fatal," said Crystal Gaskins, a CRNP at Dove Family Health.
So how do you know when it's best to go to the doctor for an official diagnosis, or stay at home and keep it contained?
Gaskins says it can be a good decision to stay home with a self-diagnosis, depending on the particular person and their health.
"To just say stay home ... you don't know the person's health condition, you're not talking to them about what to watch for," she said.
If you are in one of the most vulnerable flu categories and need to get to the doctor, just make decisions that are in the best interest of public health.
"Make sure you don't make any stops, put a mask on your face, don't run in the pharmacy when you leave, don't go pick up a pizza," Gaskins said.
But if you have the option to stay home and still contact your doctor-- like in direct primary care -- Gaksins says sometimes that's better than getting out and about.
"My patients can call me and just say hey, this is what's going on, and we can talk it out."
Direct primary care providers like Dove Family Health have more flexibility with their patients because they're closely connected to them, even outside of the office.
Either way, if you're sick, it's best to contact your medical provider to know for sure whether you're safe to stay at home and wait the sickness out.
Sick or healthy -- it's usually best to trust your gut!