How to Tell If You Have the Flu

How to Tell If You Have the Flu

Hopefully all the earlier posts we’ve provided on how to get a flu vaccine and practice other flu prevention methods will help most of you avoid the flu altogether this season. There are no guarantees in life though and every year many people inevitably do catch the flu.

If you’re one of them this year, you want to recognize what it is quickly so you can work with your doctor on getting better and avoid any of the more serious complications many seniors experience each year.

Flu Symptoms to Look Out For

The first step is to know what symptoms mean you probably have influenza rather than just a run-of-the-mill cold.

The symptoms most flu sufferers experience are:

  • A cough
  • A sore throat
  • A runny nose
  • Fever
  • Headaches
  • General achiness
  • Chills
  • Fatigue

Many of those sound a lot like a cold, so how do you know when to be worried?

Somebody with the flu is much more likely to have a fever, and fatigue is a more common symptom of the flu than a cold. Many of the other symptoms listed are more severe with the flu, especially those general aches and pains and the cough.

How to Tell If It’s Extra Serious

The flu’s bad enough, but you don’t want to find yourself with pneumonia or any of the other more serious illnesses that are sometimes caused by the flu.

If you experience any of the following symptoms, get to a doctor immediately:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Dizziness
  • Chest pain
  • Vomiting
  • A severe sore throat
  • A cough that produces green mucus
  • Confusion
  • Bluish lips or nails

It’s always better to be safe and treat anything that could be serious quickly than it is to wait and hope for the best.

What To Do Next

Now you know what to look for, so what do you do if you experience these symptoms? Head to your doctor, sooner rather than later.

The antiviral drugs your doctor will give you work best if you start taking them within 48 hours of the symptoms showing up. They can shorten the amount of time you spend sick and help keep your illness from progressing to pneumonia, sinus infections, or bronchitis.

In addition to those antiviral drugs, drink lots of water. Keep your diet healthy and take in tons of fluid. Think tea, soups, juice, and throw in some spicy foods to help alleviate your sinuses. Avoid alcohol and caffeine until your symptoms are well in the past.

And stay home. You don’t want to get anyone else sick.

Consider this a nice excuse to lazily lounge in bed or on the couch and read a good book or catch up on that TV show your kids keep recommending. The upside to getting sick is that you have an excuse to do nothing.

You will feel crummy for a little while, but if you take good care of yourself once the symptoms start, you’re more likely to leave the worst of it behind within a matter of weeks.

Kristen Hicks is an Austin-based copywriter and lifelong student with an ongoing curiousity to learn and explore new things. She turns that interest to researching and exploring subjects helpful to seniors and their families for


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