With cold and flu season nearly upon us, there’s no time like the present to brush up on recognizing symptoms of the flu. Learning what the flu is like can mean a few less days spent in bed, and being less likely to spread around the contagious germs. Over the counter flu medicines work best when administered within 48 hours of the first onset of symptoms, so the earlier it’s determined, the better. Many times, symptoms of the flu are very similar to those of a common cold. However, influenza is much more contagious, and usually worse, than a cold. Unlike a common cold, symptoms of the flu often start very quickly and with no warning. So, some symptoms to be on the lookout for are these:
- A fever, especially one in excess of 100oF. Not everyone that has the flu gets a fever, but it is certainly something to be wary of. Chills often go along with fevers when talking about the flu as well. It’s a good idea to keep a thermometer in your dorm room as a precaution if you start to feel feverish. Fevers are indicative of an infection, so it’s important to keep it in check.
- A cough and/or a sore throat. Usually the cough is dry and scratchy with the flu. Runny and stuffy noses can accompany the flu, but are more often indicative of a common cold.
- Headaches and/or body aches. This is especially common with the flu, and often your entire body will ache for a few days. This is a big indicator that it is indeed the flu, and not just a little cold. Often there will be dull aches in your joints and muscles, and in the area around your eyes. You will also most likely experience general weakness in your body.
- Fatigue is a big one. Often, when infected with the flu, you’ll want to – and need to – sleep for hours at a time. That’s your body fighting off the infection, so don’t deprive yourself of rest, especially when sick with the flu.
- Often your skin will take on a warm, flushed appearance, and your eyes will be watery and red.
There are many precautions you can take to try and fend off that nasty flu, such as washing your hands several times a day, beefing up the Vitamin C intake, and taking care to stay away from people that are ill. Washing your bed linens often can help cut down on germs as well.
For more information about the flu, treatments, or flu shots, visit the US Department of Health and Human Services Flu website.