Common Flu Symptoms
Unlike cold symptoms, signs of the flu tend to come on suddenly. You might have:
Fever above 100 F
Severe aches in your muscles and joints
Weakness or severe fatigue
Warm, flushed skin and red, watery eyes
A dry cough
A sore throat and runny nose
Adults with seasonal flu don’t usually have stomach problems like vomiting or diarrhea, but children sometimes do.
Get medical help right away if you have:
Trouble breathing or shortness of breath
Pain or pressure in your chest or belly
These symptoms can mean your illness is severe.
Flu Symptoms vs. Cold Symptoms
The symptoms of colds and flu can be a lot alike. Here’s how to tell which one is making you sick:
Fever. It can last 3 or 4 days with the flu; it’s rare with a cold.
Aches. They might be severe with the flu; they’re mild with a cold.
Chills. You’re likely to have them with the flu, but they’re rare with a cold.
Fatigue. This is common with the flu and happens sometimes with a cold.
Sneezing. You’re more likely to have this with a cold than with the flu.
Cough and chest discomfort. This is common with both but tends to be severe with the flu.
Stuffy nose. This sometimes happens with the flu but is common with a cold.
Sore throat. This can be common with the flu but is more likely with a cold.
Headache. This is common when you have the flu but rare with a cold.
How to Treat Flu Symptoms
In most cases, the best things to do when you have the flu are:
Rest at home.
Drink plenty of fluids.
Avoid contact with other people.
Your doctor might give you prescription medications called antiviral drugs if you’re at higher risk of complications, such as if you:
Are very sick or have other medical conditions
Are younger than 2 or older than 65
Have a weak immune system
Are a Native American or an Alaska Native
These medicines — baloxavir marboxil (Xofluza), oseltamivir (Tamiflu), peramivir (Rapivab), and zanamivir (Relenza) — work best when you take them 48 hours or less after your symptoms start. If you take them during this window, they can cut your illness short by a day. They can also help after 48 hours if your illness is severe.