Flu Symptoms - The flu is spreading with early symptoms or signs can vary, as the virus has a potential stomach bug epidemic impact on those who are not vaccinated, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Some flu patients may have trouble distinguish their symptoms between a common cold and influenza, but pharmacists can help them determine if self-treatment is appropriate.
A cold usually comes on slowly, starting with a runny or stuffy nose, sneezing, and a sore throat. The flu often comes on quickly with extreme tiredness, fever, body aches, and a cough. These symptoms can usually last for one to two weeks.
While the symptoms are similar, they can be difficult to tell apart, especially during flu season.
However, the flu is typically worse than a cold and more likely to cause complications that require prescription medications or hospitalization.
The flu and the common cold are respiratory illnesses caused by different viruses. There are hundreds of cold viruses that can cause a cold any time of the year. There are fewer flu viruses. The main two types are influenza A and B.
Although the flu is most common during flu season, which lasts from October to mid-May, it can happen any time of the season. Unfortunately, the flu and a cold cannot be reliably told apart by either the symptoms or the time of the year.
A patient should see a doctor when if they experience complications of the flu and a cold that may include strep throat, pneumonia, bronchitis, sinus infections, and ear infections. Signs of these complications include a persistent fever (greater than 101 degrees Fahrenheit for more than three or four days in adults), painful swallowing, persistent coughing (lasting longer than three weeks), persistent congestion, and headaches (lasting longer than one week). People with chronic health problems, such as obesity, asthma, diabetes, and heart disease, can have additional complications.
People with a high risk of developing complications should see their doctor if they have flu-like symptoms. Although there is no cure for the flu, a doctor can prescribe oseltamivir (Tamiflu) or zanamivir (Relenza). These antiviral drugs can lessen the severity and shorten the duration of the flu, thus reducing the likelihood of complications. These drugs are most effective if taken within 48 hours of the start of flu symptoms.
If flu complications are already present, the doctor can prescribe additional medications, such as antibiotics, or recommend hospitalization.