Samples of fluids from your nose or throat can be tested for evidence of bird flu virus. These samples must be taken within the first few days after symptoms appear.
X-rays may be useful in assessing the condition of your lungs, which can help determine the proper diagnosis and the best treatment options for your signs and symptoms.
Many influenza viruses have become resistant to the effects of a category of antiviral drugs that includes amantadine and rimantadine (Flumadine). Health officials recommend the use of oseltamivir (Tamiflu) or, if oseltamivir can't be used, zanamivir (Relenza). These drugs must be taken within two days after the appearance of symptoms.
Preparing for your appointment
If you suspect that you have bird flu, you need to see your primary care doctor. Let people know you may have the flu, and ask for a surgical mask to wear during your visit. If you are very ill, you may need to be hospitalized.
What you can do
- Symptom history. Write down any symptoms you've been experiencing and for how long.
- Recent exposure to possible sources of infection. Be sure to describe any international trips, especially to areas where bird flu is prevalent.
- Medical history. Make a list of your key medical information, including other conditions for which you're being treated and any medications, vitamins or supplements you're currently taking.
- Questions to ask your doctor. Write down your questions in advance so that you can make the most of your time with your doctor.
For bird flu, some basic questions to ask your doctor include:
- What's the most likely cause of my symptoms?
- Will I need any tests?
- What's the best treatment approach? Are there any alternatives?
- Will I need to take medicine?
- What can I do at home to help ease my symptoms?
What to expect from your doctor
Your doctor will need to know certain details about your illness to make a diagnosis. Be prepared to answer questions such as:
- When did you start feeling ill?
- Have you had a fever? If so, how high has it gotten?
- Have you had any close contact with birds recently?
- Have you traveled abroad recently? If so, where did you go?