Do I have the flu?

Symptoms + treatment options.

Time saver 3 min read

It’s not always easy to know if you have the flu. Symptoms can be confusing and you may wonder if it’s just a cold. This checklist can help.

Flu Cold
Comes on Sudden Gradual
Fever >100˚ F <100˚ F
Headache Noticeable Not likely
Muscle pain Severe Mild
Exhausted / Weak Severe Mild
Stuffy nose Not likely Usually
Sneezing Not likely Usually
Cough Dry Hacking
Sore throat Not likely Usually
This chart explains a few similarities and differences between the flu and common cold by comparing symptoms. The flu comes on sudden and a cold comes on gradually. A fever with the flu is usually higher than 100˚ Fahrenheit and under 100˚ Fahrenheit with a cold. Headaches are noticeable with the flu and not likely with a cold. Muscle pain is noticeable with the flu and mild with a cold. You’ll feel severely exhausted/weak with the flu and mildly with a cold. Stuffy noses are not likely with the flu and common with a cold. Sneezing is not likely with the flu and common with a cold. Coughs are dry with the flu and hacking with a cold. Sore throats are not likely with the flu and usual with a cold.

Flu treatment

Being able to get a diagnosis shortly after you start feeling symptoms can make the difference in how long you’re down and out.

Managing symptoms and starting prescription anti-virals if needed, works best when you take them within two days of first feeling symptoms. A fast diagnosis and treatment is particularly important for anyone at high risk for developing complications:

High-risk groups

  • Children younger than 5, but especially children younger than 2 years old
  • Adults 65 years of age and older
  • Pregnant women (and women up to two weeks postpartum)
  • Residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities
  • Also American Indians and Alaska Natives seem to be at higher risk of flu complications
  • Those with certain chronic medical conditions

Online care is a quick option

That exhausted “I don’t think I can move” feeling makes online clinics like virtuwell a perfect choice for diagnosis and treatment. You don’t have to get out of bed, you don’t have to share your germs, and you don’t have to risk picking something else up, either.

In our online interview, you’ll answer questions about your symptoms. Practitioners also look at how long you’ve had these symptoms because the flu, or influenza, comes on suddenly. Your diagnosis and treatment plan is then sent in minutes.

And if you need a prescription? virtuwell sends it to any pharmacy you choose.

Treatment: Tamiflu

Most people, in good health, will recover from the flu within 1-2 weeks.

In some situations anti-viral medications like Tamiflu®, can help shorten the duration and severity of the flu.

Your care provider can prescribe Tamiflu if necessary. The timing of your symptoms, your age, and your health history are all factors that are considered.

If you fall into a high-risk category seek treatment right away—as soon as symptoms start. Tamiflu is most effective within the first 48 hours of your symptoms appearing, so no matter what, time is of the essence.

Tips for treating the flu at home

Here are some other tips to make your bout with the flu a little more comfortable.

  • Rest. Sleep as much as you can. Set up camp on your bed or couch. Cancel all plans. It’s one of the few times you’ll be justified in cancelling it all.
  • Drink lots of fluids. Avoid caffeinated beverages. Warm chicken soup helps hydrate, plus the salt from the soup soothes sore throats. Extra fluids will thin out the thick phlegm that can make you so miserable. Ginger tea can help settle your stomach.
  • Over-the-counter medication can help, too. Top among them? Mucinex for congestion and Advil or Tylenol, taken with food, for aches, pains, and fevers.

Feeling flu-ish? Stay home and get a diagnosis and treatment plan online. Start your visit now.

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