There’s hope that the decline in flu activity on the west coast is a sign the epidemic may soon work its way to an ending, but for now, flu activity is still rising on the east coast (and states in between are a mix). This season has seen a high rate of hospitalizations and deaths, so continued caution is warranted even if you’re on the west coast. Worried? Here’s what to watch out for:

At highest risk for severe flu complications are people with weaker immune systems, which includes the elderly, the very young, and people with existing conditions like pregnancy or asthma. In addition, anyone over 50 is at a higher risk this year because the strain doing the most damage was not around during their formative immune system years. Anyone in these groups should be on more of a hair-trigger when it comes to deciding to go to the ER (skip the doctor’s office).

The first thing to worry about is a high fever. High fever is often the first sign you have the flu and not a cold or other winter illness. More worrisome is when the fever drops for a few days and then returns, which often signals that you’ve developed a secondary infection. Best case scenario it’s an ear or sinus infection, but it could be something more serious like pneumonia or another respiratory infection, so see a doctor to confirm.

What you can do: don’t stop taking care of yourself when you start feeling better. Don’t rush back to work or other obligations, give yourself a couple of days to help the recovery stick. And keep up any additional support! If you’re using a nebulizer, doing sinus floods, or just taking general immune support, keep it going for a couple of days while your body puts itself back together.

Another big concern: trouble breathing. Influenza attacks the respiratory system, so some discomfort is normal. When flu gets serious is when it overwhelms the heart and lungs. Any signs that you’re not getting enough oxygen (like turning blue around lips, fingers, or toes), or are having any sort of heart or lung trouble warrants an immediate ER trip.

Ideally, you want to just avoid the flu altogether. Make sure you’re following good flu prevention, like wearing face masks at the hospital or doctor’s office, washing your hands frequently, and running a humidifier at home. And if you have some colloidal silver at home, make sure you’re using it and getting the most out of colloidal silver’s immune support.

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