How To Tell If Someone Has The Flu

March 3, 2021

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.

Continue reading to learn more ways to tell if someone has the flu now.

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.

Get more information regarding the key symptoms associated with the flu now.

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.

Learn more about how to tell if someone has the flu now.

Vomiting Episodes

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.

Discover additional warning signs of the flu now.

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.

Continue reading to learn more about the symptoms associated with the flu now.

Sore Throat

A sore throat can sometimes be one of the first symptoms of the flu. Individuals might at first believe the discomfort is due to a cold, but the symptoms rapidly become worse when the problem is the flu. The soreness might start as a scratchy, uncomfortable tickle. Most affected will try to soothe it with home remedies like tea with honey. If individuals experience an inexplicable sore throat during flu season, they might want to be cautious. The reason their throat becomes sore in any case is due to an inflammation of the tissues in their pharynx. These tissues are located behind the mouth. Because the common cold and flu present with similar symptoms, patients may not realize their sore throat is a sign of something serious. Flu symptoms tend to come on quickly and more severely than cold symptoms. The soreness is typically the result of a viral infection.

Get more information on the warning signs of the flu now.


Fatigue is another early symptom of the flu patients might not recognize at first. If individuals do realize they're tired, it can be difficult to pinpoint the underlying cause, especially if they aren't experiencing other symptoms yet. Fatigue best described as feeling a lack of energy. The sensation is different from typical sleepiness or drowsiness. Sleepiness might indicate someone is fatigued, but individuals can be sleepy without experiencing fatigue. Someone who is fatigued will have no energy and no motivation. In addition to being a common early symptom of the flu, fatigue is a symptom of many other medical conditions ranging from mild to severe. In addition, eating poorly or having a sedentary lifestyle can lead to feelings of fatigue even without any apparent underlying medical problem. When individuals have the flu, fatigue tends to be sudden and excessive even without any changes to their sleeping habits. Patients may be so tired and weak that they can't participate in their normal daily activities. Resting and taking breaks is vital to the recovery process.

Reveal additional flu symptoms now.

Muscle And Body Aches

Muscle and body aches are also common symptoms of the flu. They may persist for the entire time someone is sick, but they also might develop before other symptoms. Because body aches are so diffuse and can be caused by so many different things, many don't immediately recognize them as a flu symptom. Patients might think they're achy because of a recent workout or sleeping wrong. With the flu, aching might manifest anywhere in the body. It's particularly common in the legs, back, and head. Some find their aches are accompanied by chills even if they don't have a fever. Body aches can sometimes be relieved by taking over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen and acetaminophen. Naproxen can also be used, though it's important not to take this for extended periods due to the increased risk of organ damage. Acetylsalicylic acid is a common pain reliever, but it should never be given to any individuals under nineteen years old, as those younger than this may experience serious side effects.

Discover additional warning signs of the flu now.


Diarrhea, which can be severe, often accompanies the flu alongside nausea and vomiting. For some individuals, diarrhea combined with other symptoms can be serious enough to require hospitalization. This is more likely in the very young, the elderly, and those with compromised immune systems. Diarrhea is a condition that occurs when the body passes loose, watery stools. Not all diarrhea is a sign of the flu. The majority of individuals have two or three episodes of diarrhea each year, even if they don't have any other underlying health conditions. Some health conditions cause patients to experience diarrhea on a more regular basis, such as irritable bowel syndrome. In addition to thin and watery stools, diarrhea may be accompanied by an urgent need to have a bowel movement. There may also be a variety of uncomfortable sensations including bloating in the stomach and abdominal cramps. When the diarrhea is accompanied by a fever, it tends to indicate an infection of some kind in the body.

Learn more about the symptoms linked to the flu now.


Headaches commonly accompany the flu. Not everyone who gets the flu will have headaches, but the sudden development of a headache might be an early flu symptom. In addition, patients might experience headaches throughout their case of the flu. The headaches might be accompanied by aching in other muscles throughout the body, or they may appear on their own. On top of experiencing generalized pain, individuals might also have an increased sensitivity to sensory stimuli like sounds, lights, and scents. When headaches persist beyond other flu symptoms, they tend to be caused by muscle tension or migraines. Research has shown individuals with chronic migraines tend to experience more intense migraines when they have the flu. This may be due to inflammation of the mucous membranes in the sinuses and nasal passages. The inflammation and increased production of mucus lead to an increase in pressure in the cheeks and forehead. Sometimes this causes a sinus headache by itself, and sometimes the pressure can make an already-existing headache more intense.

MORE FROM HealthPrep