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


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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.

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