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Five Early Warning Signs of the Flu and How to Deal With Them

Oct. 26, 2017 at midnight

With the arrival of fall-colored leaves, cool air, and even sprinkles of snow, we usher in that time of year called flu season. Colds and flu are contagious viral infections of the respiratory tract. Flu, of course, is more severe and affects up to 20% of the US population. Some of us get through its rampage unscathed, while some are considerably less fortunate. Recognizing these five early flu symptoms will leave us better armed to combat the seasonal scourge.

1. Fatigue

Fatigue is a common early symptom often attributed to other causes. How do we know it's not the result of a late night out and lack of sleep? Fatigue is more than feeling drowsy. We will often feel run-down, listless and exhausted. When fatigue occurs, it's important to rest and limit activity. Resting is important for strengthening our immune system.

2. Fever and Chills

A fever is a sign our body is fighting off infection. Fever due to flu usually resides in the range of 100 degrees F or higher. Chills may even occur before a fever develops. Acetaminophen and ibuprofen are effective in reducing fevers and providing appreciable relief.

3. Cough

A cough may indicate the onset of the flu. We often experience chest tightness and wheezing with a flu-related cough. Hydrating our throat with water and caffeine-free teas help. Also, cough drops and medicine are good at controlling symptoms.

4. Sore Throat

At the early onset of the flu, we often feel irritation or scratchiness in our throats. We may also feel a bit constricted when we swallow food or drinks. The flu often causes the throat to swell. Warm liquids are sure to provide relief.

5. Body Aches

Body aches can manifest anywhere in the body, especially the head, back, arms and legs. While uncomfortable and painful, body aches are often a good sign because the natural chemicals in the body are helping white blood cells fight off infection. The aches are side effects of these chemicals. Medicines such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen help relieve pain. A warm bath is also great for soothing sore muscles.

Unfortunately, there is no cure, but with appropriate rest and enough fluids, we'll be on our way to recovery in no time. However, if symptoms get worse, we should see a doctor. Although we feel miserable while the flu runs its course, recovery is usually within a week or two. That said, the best course of action is flu prevention; prevention is always better than cure!


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