Author: Patricia Bratianu RN PhD RH-AHG
Symptoms of the flu may resemble the common cold or other respiratory illnesses. The onset of symptoms for the flu are usually faster and more severe than for other respiratory diseases. You are likely to have the flu if you possess the following eight symptoms. Keep in mind that not everyone has all of these symptoms. See your health care provider for expert diagnosis and treatment.
Fever - If you have a fever over 101 degrees F, your body may be trying to fight off the flu. Shaking chills may be severe especially if you have a rapidly rising fever.
Cough – A cough that is harsh and incessant may indicate flu. Sometimes the cough is productive. Other causes of cough may be a cold or bronchitis. Many people continue to have a cough after the flu for several weeks.
Sore throat- A sore throat associated with the flu may be from excessive coughing or it may indicate that your lymph glands are swollen from trying to fight infection. A sore throat from the flu is usually red, not with a white exudate. If there is a white exudate, you may have strep throat.
Nasal symptoms- Your nose may be stuffed up or running constantly. Both are signs of flu as well as the common cold. Color of the mucus is usually clear with the flu. A secondary sinus infection may be present if the mucus is yellow or green.
Muscle aches- Achiness, sometimes severe, is often encountered by flu sufferers. It is not common with other respiratory illnesses.
Headache- Your head may hurt from being stuffed up or from a fever. Headaches may occur with other respiratory illnesses but are more common with the flu.
Fatigue- If you have the flu, you probably feel totally exhausted. You may feel like eating and brushing your teeth are huge activities. Fatigue from the flu sometimes persists even after most of the other symptoms go away.
Vomiting and diarrhea sometimes occur. This is more common among children than among adults.
The flu can be a serious disease with life threatening complications; especially for immune compromised people and for the very old and very young. The incubation period, when you are contagious, lasts from approximately one day prior to symptoms starting until five to seven days after symptoms first appear. It can be longer in children and people with weak immune systems. Early diagnosis and treatment is important. Staying hydrated and treating the symptoms will help you to feel better.