The flu is a contagious viral infection of the respiratory tract. It is, perhaps, the most common illness seen throughout the winter, aside from the common cold at least. The flu is caused by an influenza virus (the exact strain or strains vary from year to year) and the symptoms can be mild to severe. Symptoms typically commence two days after exposure to the virus and most last less than a week, although the cough may last for more than two weeks. Anyone can get the flu (even healthy individuals), and serious problems related to the flu can happen at any age.
Get familiar with some significant warning signs linked to the flu now.
Coughing And Wheezing
Coughing is perhaps one of the most annoying symptoms out there, regardless of its cause. It is also quite a common symptom, which is why individuals cannot be diagnosed with the flu based on the presence of a cough alone. This is especially important to remember as coughing can occur with the common cold as well. The key indicator on if it’s the flu rather than just a cold is the severity of the cough, particularly if wheezing is present as well. As mentioned, the cough can last for more than two weeks and is often the last flu symptom to disappear.
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Stuffy Nose And Congestion
Individuals dealing with the flu or the common cold will often have issues with their sinuses. Unfortunately, in both cases, patients can be dealing with both a stuffy nose and congestion, which makes it hard to determine if the flu or the common cold is at fault. However, a stuffy nose is more commonly seen in the common cold rather than the flu. With that said, as in other instances, symptoms of the flu, including congestion and similar, are typically more severe. Patients might also deal with sneezing to help relieve their congestion.
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Pain In The Chest Or Stomach
Pain the chest or stomach is quite a common symptom of the flu, and is important to note it is not seen nearly as often when dealing with the common cold. In some instances, this pain might also progress to more generalized muscle aches, which is what most individuals will associate with the flu. Sharp pains or pressure-induced pains indicate the flu may have worsened. Anyone who experiences chest pain should get it checked out. This even applies if they already know it’s the flu, because worsening chest pain is still a concern. Chest or stomach pain can also be indicative of other illnesses, so it’s better to be on the safe side.
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Vomiting, as well as nausea, is associated with certain types of flu, including gastroenteritis as well as swine flu (from the H1N1 strain). Gastroenteritis is often called the stomach flu, but it is not the same as influenza. Vomiting in other cases of the flu is uncommon, though it can occur. If vomiting episodes are frequent and persistent, affected individuals need to go to the doctor. This may mean there is a complication or they are dealing with more than the flu or something different. Vomiting is exhausting and contributes to dehydration.
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Fever And Chills
When it comes to differentiating between the common cold and the flu, one of the easiest indicators is whether or not an individual is dealing with a fever and chills. These symptoms often appear together, but they are a clear sign of the flu and rarely occur alongside the common cold. The normal temperature range for a healthy individual with between ninety-eight and one hundred degrees Fahrenheit. Anything above this is considered a fever. Chills are the body’s way of trying to warm itself up, which can sound odd when an individual is running a fever, but there is a reason. The body, when ill, sets a new internal temperature that’s higher than normal, and this can make someone feel cold even if they’re warmer than normal, triggering the muscle contractions and shivering that make up chills.