What Are the Symptoms of the Flu?

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Symptoms of influenza, commonly called the flu, include coughing, headache and chest discomfort, according to WebMD. A person suffering from influenza may also have a high fever that lasts for a few days, in addition to muscle aches, weakness and fatigue.

Influenza is a virus that attacks the respiratory system. It is highly contagious, spread through respiratory secretions. According to WebMD, symptoms of influenza appear from one to four days following infection.

Because influenza is a virus, it is not treatable with antibiotics, which are used to treat bacterial infections, explains WebMD. Rather, there are antiviral medications that are used to treat influenza.

The common cold and the flu have similar symptoms, so it can be difficult to differentiate between the two. Luckily, a flu test is available that allows health care providers to determine if an illness is definitely the flu within just a day or two of the onset of symptoms. Generally, the symptoms of the flu are much more severe than those of the common cold. Symptoms like body aches, cough, fatigue and fever are more intense with the flu than with the common cold while people with colds generally have stuffy or runny noses more often than with the flu.

Those people experiencing flu symptoms should seek out immediate medical attention if they begin to have difficulty breathing, are short of breath or if a blue or purple discoloration of the lips occurs, warns Flu.gov. Additionally, sudden dizziness, seizures, severe or persistent vomiting, confusion or flu-like symptoms that get better then return with a worsened cough and fever can be signs that immediate evaluation by a physician is needed.