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Nobody likes to get the flu. The flu’s common symptoms of fever, body aches, and fatigue can leave many confined to bed rest until symptoms subside. Flu symptoms will show up anywhere from one to four days after infection. They often appear suddenly and can be quite severe. Luckily, symptoms generally subside within one to two weeks.
There are two situations that could cause concern. Talk to your doctor if flu symptoms last longer than two weeks, or if they disappear and then reappear with worsened symptoms.
In some individuals, especially those at high risk, the flu may develop into complications that are more serious. Lung inflammation (pneumonia) is the most common flu-related complication. Pneumonia can be life threatening in high-risk individuals or if left untreated.
Individuals at high risk for flu complications include those:
People who have weakened immune symptoms due to health conditions or the use of certain medications are also at a high risk.
The most common symptoms of the flu are:
While most symptoms will taper off one to two weeks after onset, a dry cough and general fatigue can last several more weeks.
Other possible symptoms of the flu include dizziness, sneezing, and wheezing. Nausea and vomiting are not common symptoms in adults, but they sometimes occur in children.
Contact your doctor as soon as possible if flu symptoms:
People at high risk for flu complications should also contact their doctor if they experience any flu symptoms at all. This is especially true if you have a chronic health condition like diabetes or COPD.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), adults should seek immediate emergency treatment if they experience any of the following symptoms:
According to the CDC, seek medical care immediately if your infant or child has any of the following symptoms:
Pneumonia is a common complication of the flu. This is especially true for certain high-risk groups, including people over 65, young children, and people with already-weakened immune systems. You should visit an emergency room immediately if you have symptoms of pneumonia, including:
Untreated pneumonia can lead to serious complications and even death. This is especially true in older adults, smokers, and people with weakened immune systems. Pneumonia is particularly threatening to people with chronic heart or lung conditions.
An illness commonly known as the “stomach flu” is actually a form of gastroenteritis (GE). GE is an irritation of the stomach lining. The disease can be caused by any number of pathogens, including viruses, bacteria, and parasites.
Common symptoms include mild fever, nausea, and diarrhea. The influenza virus doesn’t typically cause nausea or diarrhea, except sometimes in small children. It’s important to distinguish between the symptoms of regular flu and the stomach flu so you can get proper treatment.
Young children are at higher risk for complications related to untreated GE. These complications can include severe dehydration and sometimes death.
Written by: The Healthline Editorial Team
Published on: Oct 20, 2014
Medically reviewed on: Jun 14, 2016: Judith Marcin, MD
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