This guide to flu symptoms may save your life! Keep reading to learn all about identifying influenza before it is too late. Many people think the flu is a harmless inconvenience. They might get a cough, runny nose, and mild fever without severe symptoms.
However, the reality is that it can be deadly if left untreated. According to CDC estimates, influenza caused about 810,000 hospitalizations and 61,000 deaths since 2010.
Being able to identify the flu will help you get the treatment you need as soon as possible. This allow you to begin treatments that can stop the flu in its tracks before it gets too dangerous. However, many people wait until it’s too late because they think they have a minor cold.
So how do you tell if you have the flu? Flu identification is all about noticing potential symptoms and determining if they are caused by influenza or another illness. Here are some early warning signs you need to keep an eye out for.
Early Symptoms You’re Getting The Flu
1 – Fevers
Even a slightly elevated body temperature is a sign that something is going wrong. You get fevers when your body is trying to raise temperatures to kill foreign invaders. Therefore, the flu tends to cause a fever.
Try to learn your base body temperature, which may be a little higher or lower than 98.6 degrees. Then you can identify when you have a low-grade fever.
All fevers are a sign of concern, but you should definitely seek help if it is above 103 degrees Fahrenheit. This is a high-grade fever that can be life-threatening if not treated.
2 – Whole Body Aches and Pains
Often, this is one of the very first flu symptoms ever to show up. Unlike body aches associated with other illnesses, flu aches and pains tend to be severe. You may feel like you worked out too hard or feel like you tripped and fell down the stairs!
This symptom shouldn’t be ignored because it is a signal your whole body is fighting against the flu. Fortunately, it is possible to treat. Taking an over-the-counter painkiller can reduce pain without affecting the progression of your flu.
3 – A Sore Throat
Sore throats are often ignored because most people associate them with the common cold. However, flu symptoms expert Andrew Hayward explains that a sore throat is more common than you might think. Many people with low-grade influenza actually have no symptoms besides a sore throat.
This might seem harmless, but it is still important to note. Those with a weak immune system might feel alright for several days but, eventually, get a more severe version. You should also get tested if you have a sore throat so you can avoid giving it to others.
4 – A Runny Nose
This is another one of those flu symptoms that may not be caught because people assume it is a common cold. The runny nose associated with the flu tends to start out clear and drippy. Over time, it may thicken up and become green or yellow.
At the first sign of a runny nose, you should go ahead and prepare for the flu. Get a lot of rest and drink plenty of fluids. Noticing this early sign can keep you from overdoing and making your flu worse.
5 – Chills
Not all people with a fever will feel hot and sweaty. As your body raises the temperature to fight the flu, you experience temperatures differently. Therefore, many people who are feverish get intense chills, where they shiver and shake.
Do not assume that this is happening just because your AC is set too high. Instead, it might mean you have the flu. Check your temperature, and take medications to stop a fever if you have one.
6 – Extreme Fatigue
Have you ever had a day where you felt like you just couldn’t wake up? This is a common early flu symptom. It happens because your body cannot produce enough energy when it is trying to fight off the flu.
If you have this symptom, take it easy instead of trying to power through it. Your body needs rest while it overcomes the flu. Therefore, you should listen to this fatigue and try to rest and relax as much as possible.
7 – Vomiting
Most people associate vomiting with the “stomach flu,” which is an entirely different illness. However, it can also happen with standard influenza. Since the flu is a viral infection, some people’s bodies react by trying to vomit to get rid of it.
Vomiting is a dangerous symptom that should be addressed because it keeps you from getting the nourishment you need. Try to sip clear liquids and eat dry crackers slowly. If you cannot keep anything down, you may need to get medical help before you get dehydrated or malnourished.
8 – Worsening Medical Problems
A little known sign of flu is that your other medical problems tend to get worse. People with asthma might have more frequent attacks, while those with heart conditions can have unsteady heart rates. This occurs because your body is too taxed by the flu also to handle other health problems.
This makes the flu particularly dangerous if you have chronic conditions like COPD, asthma, or pulmonary disease. Having to manage two health dangers at once may be too much for ill people. As soon as you notice your condition worsening, you should see a doctor.
9 – Headaches
Some people with the flu may not show any flu symptoms at first besides a blinding headache. There are multiple underlying causes of this flu sign. It can be a sort of flu ache, and it is also linked to dehydration.
If you have a headache, do not just take a painkiller and hope it goes away. You also need to make an effort to drink plenty of water and get hydrated. If it continues, you should see a doctor as soon as possible.
10 – Dry Cough
A dry cough is a cough where you feel a tickle but doesn’t produce any mucus. It is easy just to dismiss this symptom as allergies or dry air. However, the reality is that coughing is typically an early flu sign.
This type of cough needs to be monitored because it can turn into pneumonia or bronchitis. Pay attention to it closely. If you are coughing so hard you cannot breathe, you need to see a doctor.
11 – Pressure in the Chest
Some people with the flu may feel pressure or pain in their chest and stomach. Pressure in the chest is a sign that you have inflammation around your lungs. You should always pay attention to this symptom because difficulty breathing can rapidly worsen.
It typically occurs alongside other respiratory symptoms like coughs and runny noses.
12 – Bluish Tint to Skin
This flu symptom is mostly something that caregivers need to look out for in infants or seniors. People who are very young or old may not experience influenza like healthy adults. If they cannot tell you something is wrong, you need to be able to notice the symptoms.
A bluish tint to the skin happens when someone is having trouble breathing. It means they are not getting enough oxygen, so you need to take it seriously. Check for a bluish tint on lips or nails, and seek help immediately if you see it.
13 – Diarrhea
Diarrhea is not always just a harmless upset tummy from eating something a bit strange. It can actually be a flu symptom. For some people, the virus represents itself as gastrointestinal upset.
This is not as common as other flu symptoms in adults, but it is quite common in children. Diarrhea is a surprisingly dangerous flu symptom because it dehydrates you. Look out for these signs of dehydration in anyone with diarrhea:
- Dry mouth
- Low urine output
- Yellow or brown urine
- Dry skin
- Sunken eyes
14 – A Feeling That Something Isn’t Right
The early warning signs of flu are very subtle, so sometimes people just feel like something is wrong. No one knows your body better than you.
Even if you are not getting any other symptoms, you should not ignore this sensation. It is better to be safe and go ahead and visit a doctor. If they catch the flu early enough, you might be one of the lucky people who avoids any other symptoms.
As you can see, identifying influenza is easy when you know what to look for. If you notice you have any of these symptoms, you should call your doctor as soon as possible. They can give you medications to fight the flu and provide treatment for dangerous symptoms.
The prompt treatment makes a huge difference in overcoming the flu. By being attentive to flu symptoms and listening to your body, you can make sure you get well in no time at all!