Sydney is a contributing health writer and editor who enjoys shedding light on health topics, making information available to anyone who wants it, and ending stigmas or lack of access to care and treatment.
Leann Poston, M.D.
Leann Poston, M.D. earned her medical degree from the Wright State University Boonshoft School of Medicine. She completed an MBA from Raj Soin College of Business, focusing on healthcare. She is a full-time medical communication writer and educator.
April 26, 2021
Flu symptoms tend to come on pretty abruptly, so knowing flu symptoms and recognizing them early on is the best way to detect that you’ve contracted the influenza virus.
Some common early signs of the flu include:
If you want to be informed about how to detect the flu at early stages and how to mount a defense against this annual illness, read on. In this article, we’ll go over the early signs of the flu so you can be prepared to seek out the proper treatment and help your immune system fight the virus off faster.
Antiviral medications that may shorten the course of the flu are only useful if started early in the illness, preferably within the first 48 hours. If you recognize flu symptoms and contact your doctor early, your doctor may prescribe Relenza or Tamiflu.
To talk to a doctor asap, you can visit our online partners, PlushCare. PlushCare is a telehealth company that connects you to qualified available doctors in as little as 15 minutes. Don’t suffer though flu symptoms, contact an online doctor to get treated and medication prescribed right away. Make a virtual doctor’s appointment here.
Since the influenza virus has a short incubation period before developing a case of the flu, you don’t have much time to realize you’re sick before full-blown flu symptoms have set in.
A list of influenza symptoms you might be feeling soon after you have contracted the virus:
Flu symptoms are mostly just more extreme versions of the early signs, but there are also some additional symptoms you may or may not experience.
Some examples of influenza symptoms include:
In some cases, flu symptoms can result in complications.
Here are some of the warning signs of an advanced flu case:
If you or a loved one are experiencing these symptoms from the flu, you should seek advice from a medical practitioner. In some cases emergency care is needed, such as with severe dehydration, difficulty breathing and seizures. Otherwise, one way to get accessible medical care is by seeking it out online. Our partner, PlushCare, is a trusted telehealth company that offers same-day appointments with doctors. Make an appointment online here.
If you don’t seek out treatment for the flu, it might develop into a more complicated illness, especially in the elderly or those with other chronic illnesses. Sometimes flu cases can become more serious illnesses, such as:
The demographics more vulnerable to complications from the flu include seniors above the age of 65, those with cardiovascular conditions such as asthma, diabetes, or heart disease, and children younger than 2 years old.
People with preexisting respiratory conditions are also considered high risk when it comes to the flu. “For example”, warns the CDC’s information page regarding flu complications, “people with asthma may experience asthma attacks while they have flu, and people with chronic heart disease may experience a worsening of this condition triggered by flu.”
Being near someone infected with influenza can increase your risk. Influenza is spread by droplets that exit the nose and mouth when you talk, sneeze or cough. During flu season, this process repeats itself millions of times with billions of people around the world. The chances are good that you have, or will contract the influenza virus at some point in your life through exposure to the influenza virus.
Additionally, people can catch the influenza virus by making physical contact with an object or surface that has influenza particles on it, then proceeding to touch their eyes, nose, or mouth. Such instances are rare since the influenza virus can’t survive for very long without a host. However, in public places with thousands of people, infection through this vector is increasingly likely.
For most cases of the flu, you can treat your symptoms with over-the-counter medications, or simply by hydrating, resting, and allowing your immune system to work its magic. You may also be a candidate for an antiviral medication if you recognize your flu symptoms early.
If you or your child are experiencing more complicated flu symptoms, or have been sick for more than two weeks, you can make an appointment with your primary care doctor, or with a PlushCare doctor, and receive flu symptom diagnosis, treatment, and prescriptions all from the comfort of your home.
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