We often wonder what flu symptoms consist of. The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by the influenza virus. It can cause a variety of symptoms, including fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills, and fatigue. Most people recover from the flu within a week or two, but some people may develop serious complications, such as pneumonia and bronchitis. There is no cure for the flu, but there are treatments that can help to relieve symptoms and shorten the duration of the illness.
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The flu is a respiratory illness caused by the influenza virus. It is highly contagious and can spread easily from person to person through coughing, sneezing, and touching contaminated surfaces. The flu season typically runs from October to May, but it can vary from year to year.
The flu can cause a variety of symptoms, including:
- Sore throat
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Body aches
Some people may also experience nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
There is no cure for the flu, but there are treatments that can help to relieve symptoms and shorten the duration of the illness. These treatments include:
- Rest: Getting plenty of rest is important for allowing your body to fight off the infection.
- Fluids: Drink plenty of fluids, such as water, juice, and clear broths, to stay hydrated.
- Over-the-counter medications: Over-the-counter medications can be used to relieve symptoms such as fever, headache, and body aches. Common over-the-counter medications for the flu include acetaminophen (Tylenol) and ibuprofen (Advil).
- Home remedies: There are a number of home remedies that can help to relieve flu symptoms. These include:
- Gargling with salt water: Gargling with salt water can help to soothe a sore throat.
- Using a humidifier: Using a humidifier can help to add moisture to the air, which can be soothing for a cough and congestion.
- Taking a warm bath or shower: Taking a warm bath or shower can help to relieve muscle aches and pains.
Non-Prescription Flu Treatments
There are a number of non-prescription medications that can be used to treat the flu. These medications can help to relieve symptoms such as fever, headache, body aches, cough, and congestion.
- Acetaminophen (Tylenol): Acetaminophen is a pain reliever and fever reducer. It is safe for most people to take, including children and pregnant women.
- Ibuprofen (Advil): Ibuprofen is a pain reliever and fever reducer. It is also an anti-inflammatory, which means that it can help to reduce inflammation. Ibuprofen is not safe for children under 6 months old or for people with certain medical conditions, such as asthma and stomach ulcers.
- Decongestants: Decongestants can help to open up the airways and relieve congestion. Decongestants are available in both oral and nasal forms. Oral decongestants can cause side effects such as nervousness and insomnia. Nasal decongestants can cause side effects such as rebound congestion, which is when the congestion gets worse after the medication wears off.
- Cough suppressants: Cough suppressants can help to relieve a cough. Cough suppressants are available in both oral and syrup forms. Some cough suppressants can cause side effects such as drowsiness and constipation.
When to See a Doctor
Most people recover from the flu within a week or two. However, some people may develop serious complications, such as pneumonia and bronchitis. It is important to see a doctor if you have any of the following symptoms:
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
- Severe vomiting or diarrhea
- Fever that lasts for more than 3 days
- Symptoms that get worse after improving
The flu is a serious illness, but it is preventable. The best way to protect yourself from the flu is to get vaccinated every year. The flu vaccine is safe and effective, and it can help to protect you from the most common strains of the flu virus.
If you do get the flu, there are a number of things you can do to manage your symptoms at home. These include getting plenty of rest, drinking fluids, and taking over-the-counter medications. If you develop any serious symptoms, see a doctor right away.