Influenza, commonly called the flu, is a viral infection of the lungs, throat, and nose. It spreads through droplets in the air, which an infected person transmits by talking, coughing, and sneezing. Droplets can be inhaled directly or transferred from surfaces if you touch your nose, mouth, or eyes with contaminated hands. Learn more about the symptoms and potential complications of the flu.
It’s easy to confuse flu symptoms with a cold or other respiratory illnesses. If you’re starting to feel under the weather, consider that colds take time to develop, while symptoms of the flu tend to appear suddenly. Here are the signs to watch out for:
- Fever: Colds often don’t cause fevers, and when they do, they’re generally mild. However, the flu can produce fevers above 100 degrees that come on rapidly and last three to four days.
- Chills and sweats: When you have a fever, it’s common to feel hot and cold at the same time. This may cause you to get the chills, yet you’ll start sweating when you try to bundle under a blanket.
- Dry cough: Coughing is a symptom of the common cold, too. However, the flu produces a dry cough not accompanied by mucus.
- Sore throat: Your throat might be sore on its own, and excessive coughing only makes it worse.
- Body aches: A cold can cause slight aches and pains, but the achiness associated with the flu is more severe. Both achy muscles and headaches are common flu symptoms.
- Weakness and fatigue: It’s more common to feel exhausted if you have the flu. This tiredness may linger for days or even weeks.
- Nasal congestion: This is a common symptom of both a cold and the flu. Expect to sniffle and blow your nose regardless of which illness you have.
- Vomiting and diarrhea: Influenza can sometimes cause digestive issues, especially in children. However, if you only experience vomiting and diarrhea without other flu symptoms, you probably have gastroenteritis, or “stomach flu.” This is not the same as influenza.
Most people who get sick with the flu get better on their own. However, young kids, older adults, pregnant women, and people with chronic illnesses or poor immunity could be at risk for dangerous complications. If your flu symptoms grow severe, seek medical help to avoid or treat these conditions:
- Ear infections
- Sinus problems
- Myocarditis (heart inflammation)
- Encephalitis (brain inflammation)
- Kidney failure
- Respiratory failure
If you’re experiencing symptoms of the flu or other respiratory illnesses, visit Total Point Urgent Care for treatment. We provide walk-in services for the flu, colds, and COVID-19 at a fraction of the cost of an emergency room visit. With 12 locations in Texas and Arizona, we offer many nearby options for patients to stop by at their convenience. Visit a neighborhood clinic near you today or contact us online to ask questions.