How to Spot Early Signs of the Flu

Sick woman blowing her nose

The flu is a respiratory illness that most often occurs in winter and early spring. The respiratory illness is caused by either the Influenza A or influenza B virus. The flu is highly contagious and is typically spread through physical contact or contact with mucous or respiratory droplets.

While there is treatment available for the flu, it is often only effective if used early in the illness, usually before you are aware of what is causing you to be sick. Knowing the early symptoms of the flu is not only important when seeking treatment, but also important in preventing the spread of the sickness. Some of the early symptoms of the flu include,

  • Fever

    While you may only notice a slight fever at first, this is one of the best ways to distinguish your early symptoms as flu related, instead of related to a cold. As you progress through the illness, you will probably run a high fever and experience chills on and off.

  • Fatigue

    When you have the flu you will often experience fatigue as well as overall weakness. As your body begins to fight the virus, you will find that you will feel better when resting, even though you may still feel fatigued after a good night’s rest.

  • Cough

    Since influenza is a respiratory illness, you will often experience coughing as an early symptom. At the beginning your cough may not be as severe and might not cause as much discomfort. You may dismiss this symptom as being cold related at first.

  • Sore Throat

    At first your throat may just feel dry and itchy, as though you have something caught in it you can’t work up, but eventually your throat will begin to throb and often become red and inflamed.

  • Headaches

    Headaches caused by the flu can be severe and sometimes even incapacitating. This can occur when you are experiencing a fever due to the dilation of your blood vessels, or can be the result of sinus pressure due to congestion.

  • Body Aches

    One of the primary ways you can distinguish the symptoms of a cold from that of the flu is the all over body aches. Muscles can be sore and have a nagging ache that is not relieved with rest. This combined with weakness and fatigue can keep you bed bound throughout your illness.

  • Nasal Congestion

    When you have the flu, you may develop stuffy nasal passages, a runny nose, or both during the duration of your illness. This is usually most severe during the beginning of the flu.

  • Nausea

    Nausea is an early symptom of the flu experienced by some. When you are nauseous during the flu you may find yourself eating less, which will increase the feelings of fatigue and overall body weakness.

  • Diarrhea

    Like nausea not all sufferers will experience diarrhea as an early flu symptom. If you do, it is important to stay hydrated to prevent a possible trip to the hospital.

Recognizing the early symptoms of the flu will not only help you prevent the spread of the disease, but will also help you treat your illness as quickly as possible, resulting in a shorter and hopefully easier duration.

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