Flu Symptoms (8) - Do I Have the Flu or Just a Cold?

by Mark Thevenot

Posted on Friday 28th of November 2008

I feel horrible! - do I have the flu or is it just a common cold? This question is usually the 1st one that comes to my mind when I get that lousy-all-over-feeling that lets me know I've caught a winter season bug. Some of the symptoms of the flu (influenza) are very similar to those common to the common cold, however, there are some flu symptoms that are not. Here are 8 symptoms that are common to the flu. These tips may help you determine whether you have the flu and a proper course of action if you do. If you suspect you have the flu and not just a common cold, see your doctor within 48 hours if possible. He may be able to prescribe medications that will help lessen the severity of your symptoms. After 48 hours the available antiviral medications are much less effective.

1.) Fever of 100.4 F (38C) or higher. Fever is rare if you only have a cold but fever over 100.4 F for 3-4 days is common in up to 80% of flu cases.

2.) Muscle aches that are widespread throughout the body. Muscle aches are not common with a cold and if they do occur are normally slight.

3.) Very tired or exhausted feeling. The degree of tiredness is usually much more pronounced with the flu than with a common cold.

4.) Headaches are common with the flu but fairly uncommon with a cold.

5.) Chills are common with the flu but are uncommon with a cold.

6.) Sore throats are common with both the flu and a cold.

7.) Stuffy or runny nose. These are common with both the flu and a cold but are more common with children who have the flu than with adults with the flu.

8.) Stomach problems such as nausea, vomiting and diarrhea are sometimes associated with the flu - a more common symptom with children - but uncommon with a cold.

If you have any of the symptoms commonly associated with the flu, you should see your doctor ASAP – remember , as stated above, if within 48 hours of the onset of flu symptoms he may be able to treat you with antiviral medications that may reduce the severity of your symptoms and shorten their duration. After 48 hours the effectiveness of antiviral medications is substantially reduced.

Here are a few other suggestions that may help get you through the misery of having the flu: 1) Get enough sleep - not only will sleep help your body recover more quickly from the flu but when you are asleep you are not suffering 2) take over-the-counter medications such as Tylenol or Advil or other brands of ibuprofen or acetaminophen 3) keep your room warm (but not hot) 4) monitor your fever 5) avoid contact with others(except your doctor)until you are well 6) do not continue working or strenuous daily activities until you are well. Prevention is better. To prevent the flu: Ask your doctor if he recommends that you get a flu shot each year before the flu season begins. Certainly you should see you doctor immediately if you suspect you already have the flu.

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