Flu Symptoms: How You’ll Feel if You Catch the Influenza Virus

Do you have the flu. Photo by: Mikael Häggström

Do you have the flu? Image  by Mikael Häggström

Do you have the flu, or is it just another cold?

Even though the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is reporting that fewer people are currently seeing their doctors for influenza-like-illnesses, the numbers are still above the national baseline. This means that the flu is still occurring at higher rates than normal. If you have the flu, you may also be wondering how much longer until you feel like your old self again.

2013 Flu Epidemic: Onset of Symptoms

Lots of people are getting the flu this year, and it happens pretty much the same way for everyone. You wake up feeling fine and then, bam, you feel like you have been hit by a truck. Flu symptoms come on all at once, not like a cold where you may develop a runny nose first and then a sore throat. It takes about two days from the time you come into contact with the influenza virus until the time you develop symptoms, but you can feel the effects of the flu as quickly as a day or as long as up to four days. The Utah Department of Health warns that symptoms can even develop within three to six hours of infection.

Influenza Symptoms: Aches, Pains, and Fatigue

With a cold you may feel a bit achy, but with the flu, you will experience moderate to severe body aches. Your muscles and joints will hurt and it may be painful to move. Feeling tired is a common occurrence in day-to-day life, but when you have the flu you will feel severely fatigued. The fatigue is generally so severe that you cannot get out of bed or off the couch without feeling exhausted.

As for the headaches: Very rarely will you have one with a cold, but 80 percent of people with the flu will experience a headache according to the Utah Department of Health. These headaches are different than what you may experience with sinus headaches, in which there is more pressure in one particular area, or in which your face is tender to the touch. Sinus headaches usually begin in the morning, and are typically gone by the afternoon.

When you have the flu, however, there is not a specific area of the head that hurts – and the pain generally doesn’t go away on its own by the afternoon.

Flu: Coughing and Sneezing

With the flu you may experience a dry or non-productive cough. This means you aren’t coughing up mucus, which is what happens when you have a cold. Sneezing, runny, and stuffy noses are most often times associated with the common cold rather than with the flu, but are possible with the flu.

Click to Read Page Two: Fever and Chills

© Copyright 2013 Janelle Vaesa, MPH, All rights Reserved. Written For: Decoded Science
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  1. says

    I am amazed my own body creates the worst part of flu like aching skull,back and finger and toe joints,because the repairing white cells shoot of to fight the virus,is it not possible to create a drugs that continues to repair muscles whilst your white cells are other wise engaged,this would surley make the symptoms a whole lot more bearable enduceing a speedyer recovery.

  2. That girl says

    I got the flu the day before I ran my 1st 1/2 marathon (I didn’t know if had the flu) but I was having a had time breathing and a horrible cough, it got worse and the next day I felt like I was ran over ,went to the ER and the said it was influenza A , it’s been a week and I still have body aches and I’m so fatigue! When will this go away?!?! Also everything I eat has a horrible taste or nothing taste right why!!! :( any advice ?!

    • says

      Its crazy I work outside all winter very well wrapped up,I jog once a week and play golf,I ear well and healthy,apart from s takeaway and a few beers at weekends,ppl say to me I bet u never get a cold,I laugh I get flu 3 times every winter each time taking 9 to 14 days to recover,my family n friends don’t understand and think I’m a hypercrondiac,grrrrr hope your better lol

  3. rosa says

    I have only ever had the flu once. Feeling cold then hot sore throat body hurting. Im gonna have the flu jab next year

  4. Flora says

    58 days later – after 3 lots of antibiotics (bronchitis and sinusitis came along with the flu), inhaler, chicken soup, honey, garlic etc. etc. I still have it. I have had 3 episodes, get a little better after each but the cough and breathlessness never goes away. Now it is back again with a vengeance. Perhaps because I am in my 70s it has struck me really badly. Doctors do not have a clue what to do. I am struggling along the best I know how – good diet, water, rest, avoid infecting others (isolation is not a happy place to be!),

  5. smackyobitchass says

    The other night I went to sleep feeling okay and woke up feeling like I had been the victim of a wild stampede… I just couldn’t move dry cough and pounding headache…I drank plenty of fluids bed rest and soup.. the flu is NO.JOKE… although I’m feeling better I’m still very exhausted….

  6. Kissa Diesel says

    I am noticing flu symptoms are geting alot worse every year I have never been so I’ll in my life my aches and pains are that severe that I groan in pain.

  7. says

    Can your lymph nodes in the back of your neck swell up as well? I have a low grade fever, nothing over 100, tired, upset stomach, headache…none of this is mentioned…The doctors ran a white blood count and it was low, is this the flu or something the doctors missed, they said they were not sure either….

  8. Mr Gulo says

    Yeah this flu cud be a military weapon. Body aches but mostly nonstop head pain.. Followed closely by fever with cold sweats

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