It’s flu season, which means you want to be sure you’ve caught influenza and not just a common cold. After all, you don’t want to infect someone else with it. Influenza, also known as the flu, is a highly contagious viral infection and every year, 3% to 11% of Americans get the flu and develop the flu. It attacks the respiratory system and when you catch it, you’ll probably feel miserable due to the flu symptoms most people experience. The big question is: when do I suffer from influenza, and when are you just feeling under the weather?
Fever is the number one symptom of influenza. Even though fevers can also be caused by many other diseases, influenza is the number one cause. With a fever, your body temperature rises up to an uncomfortable and sometimes even dangerous temperature. It usually takes about 3-4 days for the fever to reduce. Typically, fevers don’t go higher than 41 to 42 °C. From these temperatures, it becomes life-threatening, and you should see a doctor.
Feeling chilly is a symptom of influenza, but is actually caused by fever. Even though your body temperature is high, you might feel cold. It feels as if, even though you’re packed with blankets, you can’t get warm. In reality, your body is way too warm, and wrapping yourself with thick blankets won’t make you feel any better.
Extreme perspiration is also a symptom that is caused by fever but also indicates that you’re suffering from influenza. It can cause you to feel uncomfortable and gross, but that’s nothing a shower can’t solve. Make sure to hydrate if you suffer from this symptom because extreme perspiration can cause dehydration, which can have life-threatening complications. What these complications are and how to recognize dehydration? You can read it here…
Severely Painful Muscles
Highly typical for influenza are sore muscles. It feels like you’ve run a marathon and like you’ve got muscle strain from the extreme workout. In reality, the flu has affected your body’s cells, making your muscles achy.
As said, influenza can cause a big variety of symptoms that make you feel miserable. One of those symptoms is getting headaches. Headaches are caused by molecules in your body that are fighting the disease. These molecules are released in your system, they tend to cause inflammation and increase the pressure in your head, causing you to get painful headaches.
With influenza, you’re bound to feel very weak and fatigued. Walking up the stairs can even be too much for your weakened body. Feeling weak can take longer than most of the other flu symptoms. It might take a few weeks until you feel 100% in energy again.
Having a dry cough is very common for influenza, and less common for the common cold. The cough is caused by damage to the cell lining. The constant coughing, in its turn, can cause you to get a sore throat.
The constant sneezing is one of the reasons why influenza is often mistaken for a common cold at first, but it’s definitely also a common symptom of influenza. Be sure to sneeze in a handkerchief or on your elbow, to make sure you don’t make all the people around you sick!
Eye pain is very common for influenza and can make you feel even more miserable. It’s caused by inflammation and increased pressure in the head. Some people experience the pain worse when they close their eyes; quite frustrating since you probably just want to sleep when you have the flu.
Vomiting & Diarrhea
Stomach and intestine issues aren’t usually common flu symptoms, but they do occur more often in children with influenza. If you only have diarrhea and vomiting, however, you probably have gastroenteritis and not influenza.
Dizziness can be a symptom of severe influenza, usually due to dehydration. With influenza, you’re usually sweating a lot, and you might not be able to drink or eat, causing you to get dehydrated. Dehydration is severely dangerous if not treated on time and that’s why dizziness should be an immediate warning sign to see a doctor.
If you weren’t feeling bad enough and continue working while having (minor) symptoms, you might develop ear infections if your flu is left untreated. Ear infections can be quite painful and should be treated, so make sure to contact your professional healthcare provider. Your provider will examine the infection and prescribe the right medication/ treatment plan.
Shortness Of Breath
Getting shortness of breath is a common sign of influenza, but it can also be a warning sign of something much worse. If you are really struggling with breathing, make sure to contact your healthcare provider as soon as possible.
Not urinating is caused by severe dehydration and if you still can’t drink anything, you should consider going to a doctor or hospital to see if you need to get an intravenous drip to get fluids in your body. Dehydration, when severe, is dangerous and can possibly be life-threatening, so don’t take this symptom lightly.
Untreated and severe influenza can cause a person to become confused. This is a big warning sign, and it’s smart to visit a doctor to get yourself or your loved one with influenza checked out.
Risk Groups & Treatment Options for Flu Symptoms
Influenza doesn’t usually need treatment. Drinking plenty of water and resting are the basic treatment plan. However, sometimes flu symptoms won’t go away without treatment. Contact your professional healthcare provider if your symptoms won’t pass & are severe, or when you experience the above-mentioned symptoms. Your provider will examine you – and your symptoms – and set up the right treatment plan. Medications for influenza are anti-viral and will shorten your illness (by a day) and help prevent complications.
Influenza can be a risky illness if you fall into a high-risk group. In this case, you’re at risk of developing complications, which can be deathly. Complications of influenza, include pneumonia, bronchitis, asthma, and heart problems. Risk groups for influenza are:
- Children under the age of 2
- Adults older than 65
- People who suffer from chronic illnesses, like diabetes & asthma
- People with weakened immune systems
- Being American Indians or Alaska Natives
- Pregnant women
- Having obesity
- People under 19 taking aspirin
- People working or living in facilities with many people, like nursing homes or hospitals
Make sure you’re completely informed on the subject, by continuing your online research for more information about influenza, what causes this virus, more influenza symptoms, and what possible home remedies can speed up the process of getting better from the flu.