Flu Symptoms 2013: What Happens When You Get Sick With Influenza?

If you are withing six feet of this guy, you could get sick! Photo by: CDC

If you are within six feet of this guy, you could catch whatever he’s got! Photo by: CDC

Flu season’s affecting lots of people this year – but how do you know if you have the flu, or if it’s just another cold virus?

Influenza is a virus that infects the respiratory system, which includes your nose, throat, lungs, and bronchial tubes. But what do the flu germs do to make you so miserable? Let’s take a look at what happens on the inside when you come in contact with the influenza virus, and how to know if you’ve got the flu or just a cold.

Flu Infection: Where Germs Are

The influenza virus spreads via large-particle respiratory droplet transmission. This occurs when a person coughs or sneezes; these droplets can then be spread onto surfaces or inhaled by another person within six feet or less. Droplets that land on surfaces like tables, phones, pens, etc. can be remain live from a few minutes to 48 hours or more, so disinfect! Germs can live longer on surfaces like stainless steel and plastic than they can on fabrics. But do you know that the most common way to spread the flu is via that good old handshake? Time to brush up on your fist bumping technique!

Flu Virus: Are You Contagious?

The time between exposure to the virus and the time you experience symptoms is called the incubation period. The incubation period  for the influenza virus is one to four days, with an average of two days for adults. Once the virus enters the body, it begins to multiply. After about a day and a half, these new particles shed off their lining so that they can enter secretions such as saliva and phlegm.

Adults are contagious because of these bits of shed virus from the day before symptoms begin through five to ten days after they first start feeling sick. However, the amount of viruses that are shed decrease quickly after day three, according to the CDC.

Children are contagious longer; they can starts shedding the virus several days before symptoms develop but also continue to ten or more days after the illness.

People with a weakened immune system can continue to shed the virus up to months after the onset of symptoms.

Flu Symptoms: How Do You Know If You Have the Flu?

What makes flu symptoms different from the common cold? Flu symptoms are more severe and come on suddenly and all at once. Symptoms may include fever, headache, sore throat, fatigue, and achy muscles. Generally with the flu, you will not have sneezing or a runny or congested nose. If you wake up with just one symptom, such as a sore throat, you probably don’t have the flu. If you wake up feeling like you were hit by a truck, and have multiple symptoms all at once, suspect the flu.

Don’t forget – the flu is not the same as the ‘stomach flu’ as some people may confuse the two. Children with influenza may experience vomiting and/or diarrhea, but adults rarely have these two symptoms with influenza.

Click to Read Page Two: Flu Recovery

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

    The diagnosis of flu symptoms made on the basis of data on the seasonal incidence, clinical features of acute onset with marked intoksikotsionen and subsequent catarrhal syndrome. The final placement is by virological investigations. In the acute period of the disease (the third day) materials from patients for research pharyngeal and / or nasal swabs and washes, and tracheal or bronchial aspirates. They demonstrate any naspetsifichni influenza antigens within minutes and hours. (For virus isolation in eggs and cell culture and subsequent identification take 1 to 2 weeks.) Used different serological methods for the detection of antibodies to influenza virus in two consecutive serum samples taken. Differential diagnosis is necessary in the first place with the other acute respiratory viral diseases due to increased seasonal incidence during the cold months of the year, the presence of intoxication and catarrhal symptoms.

  2. Anna Parker-Smith says

    We didn’t go to the doctor,but i’m sure it was the flu. Woke with a sore throat and only hours later lungs felt like they were being ripped from my chest. Fever and soreness were also present. My Husband had the exact same symptoms only a day later then my begun.

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