The flu, or influenza, is a highly contagious respiratory illness. Some cases may be mild and relatively easy to get through. Other times, infection with the flu can present with severe symptoms and may, in some cases, be life-threatening.
If you suspect that you may have the flu, it’s important to pay attention to your body and seek medical attention if necessary. Here are seven signs that you may have the flu:
One of the most common signs of the flu is a fever, which is a body temperature that is higher than normal (above 99°F). This is part of your immune’s system’s response to fighting off an infection. When you are sick, monitor your temperature regularly and seek medical attention if the fever persists for more than a few days.
Cough and Sore Throat
Another primary symptom of the flu is a cough and sore throat. A cough is a reflex that helps to clear the airways of mucus, irritants, and other foreign substances. It can be dry or productive, and it is often accompanied by a sore throat, which is a feeling of discomfort or pain in the throat. If you have a cough and sore throat, drink more water and fluids and avoid irritants such as tobacco smoke and pollution.
Runny or Stuffy Nose
A runny or stuffy nose is another common symptom of the flu. A runny nose is generally caused by excess mucus production, which can occur due to viral infections such as the flu. It can be accompanied by sneezing, itchy eyes, and a scratchy throat.
A stuffy nose is typically caused by swelling and inflammation in the nasal passages, making it difficult to breathe through your nose. Keep your nose clean and moisturized, and avoid blowing your nose too hard.
Headache and Body Aches
Headaches and body aches are also common symptoms of the flu. These aches and pains can be caused by or worsened by a number of factors, such as dehydration, stress, or sinus pressure. If you have a headache and body aches, it is important to rest and avoid activities that may exacerbate your symptoms. Over-the-counter medications may also provide some relief.
Fatigue and Weakness
Fighting off an illness requires a lot of energy, so fatigue and weakness are also common symptoms of the flu. Illnesses also tend to bring on added stress, disrupted sleep, and decreased physical activity, all of which can make you feel more exhausted.
If you have fatigue and weakness, it is important to get plenty of rest and avoid activities that may exacerbate your symptoms.
Loss of Appetite and Nausea
Although the flu is primarily a respiratory illness, it is not uncommon to experience digestive troubles, such as loss of appetite and nausea. If you have lost your appetite or are feeling nauseous, you should still try to eat small, frequent meals to get some nourishment and avoid foods that may exacerbate your symptoms.
Chest Congestion and Difficulty Breathing
Chest congestion and difficulty breathing are also common symptoms of the flu. Chest congestion is a feeling of fullness or tightness in the chest, which can be caused by excess mucus production or inflammation in the airways.
Difficulty breathing, on the other hand, is a feeling of shortness of breath or difficulty inhaling or exhaling air.
Struggling to breathe is a key warning sign to be aware of, as it can quickly become a medical emergency. If you or a loved one is having difficulty breathing (or any other unusual or concerning symptoms), call for medical help immediately.