What Are Symptoms of Flu?
Flu (Influenza) is an infectious disease of the upper airways, usually manifested by fever, cough, sore throat, muscle aches and pains, headaches, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting. It is caused by one of three types of influenza virus; Type A, B and C.
- People who have chronic medical conditions like asthma, diabetes, heart disease, lung disease, immune system disorders, neurological disorders, obesity, or who smoke.
- Young children under age 2
- People older than age 65
- Long-term care facilities for residents
- People who are pregnant or plan to be pregnant during flu season
- Those who have weakened immune systems
- American Indians or Alaska Natives
- Individuals who suffer from chronic conditions, such as asthma, cardiovascular diseases, kidney diseases, hepatic diseases, and diabetes,
- People who have a BMI of 40 or higher
The flu shot doesn’t guarantee protection against every strain of the flu virus; however, it can reduce your risk of complications if you get sick.
What Are Symptoms of Flu
Cold symptoms usually develop slowly over several hours or even just a few moments. It starts off mild, but becomes increasingly severe over the course of several years. However, the common cold usually comes on suddenly. It starts off mild, but becomes increasingly severe over the course of several years.
Your symptoms usually begin within hours or days after eating gluten. If you have celiac disease, you may also get diarrhea (sometimes bloody) when you eat gluten. The most common initial symptom of celiac disease is abdominal pain. These symptoms usually occur within weeks to months of starting a gluten-free diet.
Common flu signs include fever, sore throat, cough, muscle
- Aching muscles
- Chills and sweats
- Dry, persistent cough
- Shortness of breath
- Tiredness and weakness
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Sore throat
- Eye pain
- vomiting and diarrhea, but this isn’t usually an issue for people who aren’t kids.
What time period lasts for?
If most symptoms disappear after five days, but some don’t go away until a week later, then you’re probably not sick enough yet.
When to see a doctor
If you’re sick but not too ill, most people who develop influenza can manage their illnesses at home and often don’t require medical attention.
If you have colds and/or flus and feel sick enough to be at highhealth risks, then seek medical advice immediately. Antiviral medicationsmay shorten the duration of your illness and lower your chances of developingmore serious conditions.
If you’re an adult experiencing any kind of emergency (flu-like) symptom, seek immediate medical attention. Examples of these might be:
- Difficulties breathing
- Chest pain
- Ongoing dizziness
- Worsening of existing medical conditions
- Muscle weakness or severe muscle pains
Emergency signs and signals in children may include:
- Difficulty breathing
- Skin that is pale, gray or blueish in appearance, especially if it is darker than normal for your race, may be signs of vitamin D deficiency.
- Severe muscle pain
Influenza viruses spread from person to person by way of respiratory droplets when someone has the flu. You can get the virus by breathing in droplets, touching contaminated surfaces, or by coming into contact with objects that contain the virus.
If someone has COVID-19, he/she is most likely contagious from about one day before symptom appears to about 4 days after symptom appears. However, children and those who are immuno-compromised might be contagious for even longer than that.
Influenza A virus causes seasonal epidemics of respiratory illness every year. Vaccination reduces the risk of serious influenza‐related illnesses including hospitalization and death. Vaccination should be started early during an outbreak, preferably within days after symptoms appear. Getting vaccinated also protects against catching the influenza virus if you get sick later. However, vaccine effectiveness wanes over time and so does immunity against the flu. For example, if you were vaccinated last fall and then caught the flu again this winter, you might only have about half the protection you got the first time around. That means twice as many people would likely develop flu symptoms and twice as many could end up being hospitalized.
Also, if you have been exposed to an influenza virus at some time in the past, your immune system might not be able to recognize them anymore. If that happens, you won’t be protected against a newly emerging strain of flu.
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Factors that may raise your risk of coming down with the flu or experiencing complications from it include:
- Children younger than two years old tend to have worse health consequences from seasonal flu than do people aged 65 and older.
- Factors affecting living or working conditions include whether people are living or working in facilities with many other people, such as nursing homes, hospitals, or military barracks; where they are staying (such as hotels, hospitals, or military bases); and their health status.
- A weak immune system makes it harder for you to fight off infections and illnesses. It may be difficult for you to recover from an illness if you’re already dealing with one or more health issues.
- Chronic diseases. People who suffer from chronic illnesses tend to be at increased risk for developing flu complications. These include people suffering from respiratory diseases (such as bronchitis), cardiovascular diseases (including high blood pressure and coronary artery diseases), neurological diseases (including Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases), endocrine diseases (including diabetes and thyroid diseases) and renal diseases (kidney failure).
- Race. African Americans and Native American populations are more likely to die from flu than Caucasians. This is because they often lack access to medical care and medications, which are needed to treat severe cases of influenza.
- Pregnant women. Pregnant women are at greater risk of getting very sick from the flu. They are also at higher risk of having a miscarriage or premature delivery.
- If you develop a fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose, muscle aches, headache, chills, fatigue, body aches, diarrhea or vomiting, contact your health care provider immediately.
- If you have been exposed to someone with influenza, wear a face mask when around others. Covering your mouth and nose will protect you and those around you from getting infected.
- Children under the age of 19 are at increased risk for Reye’s syndrome if they receive an infection during treatment with long-term acetaminophen (aspirins).
- Pregnancy. During pregnancy, pregnant women are more likely to get influenza. After giving birth, the risks continue for two weeks.
- Obesity. When people have a Body Mas Index (BMI) of greater than 40, they are at a higher risk for developing influenza.
- If you’re young and healthy then the flu (or any illness) should be easy to recover from. However, if you’re an adult who has certain health conditions, for example, heart disease, diabetes, asthma, lung diseases, kidney disorders, liver disease, or an immune system disorder, you might develop some side effects. These could include:
- Asthma flare-ups
- Heart problems
- Ear infections
- Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS)
Pneumonia is an infection of the lungs that can be fatal if not treated quickly. It’s most common among older people and people who have certain health conditions.
The CDC recommends that everyone ages six month or older gets an influenza vaccine every year. Influenza vaccines can help protect against the spread of the virus and prevent people from becoming seriously ill from the disease. They also can decrease your chances of going to the doctor’s office or emergency room because you have the influenza virus.
Both COVID-19 and influenza (commonly called “the common cold”) are very contagious viruses. They spread easily through coughs and sneezes, and they can live for days on surfaces such as doorknobs, phones, and light switches. These viruses often circulate together during seasonal outbreaks, so getting your annual vaccinations against these two diseases is particularly important. This year, there will be both injectable vaccines and a high-dose flu vaccines for people ages 65 and older.
- Children under age 2
- Adults who are 50 years old or older
- Pregnant people
- Children aged 2–17 years old who are already on an antihistamine drug regimen may be at risk of serious side effects if they take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen, nap
- people who have weak immune systems
- Kids 2 to 4 years old who have had asthma or wheezing in the past 12 months
If you’re allergic to eggs, you can still get vaccinated against the flu.
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Controlling the spread of infection
The flu shot isn’t 100 percent effective, so taking certain steps to prevent spreading the virus, including:
- Wash your hands regularly. Regularly washing your hands with soapy water, even when not needed, helps keep you healthy by reducing the spread of germs. If you don’t have access to soapy water, then use antiseptic wipes instead.
- Don’t touch your eyes, nose, and/or lips.
- If you’re sick, cover your cough and sneeze with a tissue or use your arm. Wash your hands afterwards.
- Wash your hands regularly.
- Get plenty of sleep. Try to get eight hours of uninterrupted sleep each night. This will help reduce fever and fatigue.
- Take care of yourself. Eat healthy foods like fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, fish, low fat dairy products, nuts, seeds and legumes. Drink plenty of water. Exercise regularly.
- Try to avoid crowds during the height of winter. Crowds tend to spread the cold virus more than any other way.
If someone has a cold, flu, etc., they should definitely not be exposed to others. Also, if you feel ill, keep yourself at home until you no longer have any symptoms (febrile illness) or until you’ve been symptom free for at least 24 hours (cold).
Your health care provider will conduct a physical exam, look for signs and symptoms of flu, and possibly order a test that detects influenza viruses.
If there is an outbreak of influenza at your place of employment, your employer may decide to test you without your consent. You might want to ask them why they feel the need to go through this extra step.
In some cases, your doctor may recommend that you be tested for flu. Your doctor may perform various types of flu testing during an appointment. Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) is one such type of flu testing that may be performed. PCR testing can detect strains of flu virus that cannot be detected by other methods. PCR testing can also provide information about specific strains of flu virus.
You may have both the flu and coronavirus at the same time. It’s possible to get a diagnostic test for both.
- Usually, you’ll need nothing more than resting and plenty of fluids in order to treat the flu. But, if you have a severe case of influenza or are at a greater likelihood of developing any type of complication, your doctor may recommend that you take antiviral medicines to shorten your symptoms and help prevent these potentially dangerous conditions. These medicines typically include Oseltamivir, Zanamivir, Peramivir or Baloxavirin. They may also shorten the length of your illness and help prevent serious problems.
Oseltamivir (Tamiflu) is a drug for treating flu symptoms. Zanamivir (Relenza) is a drug for preventing influenza infections. It isn’t recommended for people who have breathing problems, such as asthma or lung disease.
Antiviral medication side effects may include nausea and vomiting. These side effects may be lessened if the medication is taken with food.
Lifestyle and home remedies
- If you do get sick, these measures may help alleviate some of your symptoms:
- Drink lots of fluids. Choose beverages including, but not limited to, plain or flavored waters, juices, and hot soups to keep yourself hydrated
- If there’s an antibiotic at hand, take it. Don’t worry if it doesn’t seem to be working yet – you might just need some rest.
- When treating colds, use acetaminophen (such as Tylenol) or ibuprofin (such as Advil, Motrin IB). Never use high doses of acetaminophen for children younger than 6 years old or older than 12 years old. Avoid using any type of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug during pregnancy.
To help control the spreading of influenza in your community, stay at least six feet (two meters)away from others. Do not go out until your temperature is no longer high. Avoid being around other people until you feel better. If you do have to leave your house, cover your nose and mouth with tissue paper, wash your hands often and avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
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The symptoms of flu are similar to those of many other illnesses. The best way to know whether you have the flu is to see your physician. However, if you think you have the flu, try to follow the above tips to reduce your chances of getting sicker.