Initially, the flu may seem like a common cold with a runny nose, sneezing and sore throat. But colds usually develop slowly, whereas the flu tends to come on suddenly. And although a cold can be a nuisance, you usually feel much worse with the flu.
Common signs and symptoms of the flu include:
- Fever over 100 F (38 C)
- Aching muscles, especially in your back, arms and legs
- Chills and sweats
- Dry, persistent cough
- Fatigue and weakness
- Nasal congestion
- Sore throat
When to see a doctor
Most people who get the flu can treat themselves at home and often don't need to see a doctor.
If you have flu symptoms and are at risk of complications, see your doctor right away. Taking antiviral drugs within the first 48 hours after you first notice symptoms may reduce the length of your illness and help prevent more-serious problems.
Sept. 29, 2015
- Longo DL, et al., eds. Influenza. In: Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine. 19th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2015. http://accessmedicine.com. Accessed June 10, 2015.
- What you should know for the 2014-2015 influenza season. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/season/flu-season-2014-2015.htm. Accessed May 31, 2015.
- Dolin R. Clinical manifestations of seasonal influenza in adults. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed June 10, 2015.
- Bennett JE, et al. Influenza (including avian and swine influenza). In: Mandell, Douglas, and Bennett's Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases. 8th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2015. https://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed May 27, 2015.
- The flu: What to do if you get sick. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/flu/takingcare.htm. Accessed May 31, 2015.