The flu can be dangerous, especially if someone is very young, elderly or if he has a weak immune system. It is important to differentiate the common cold from the flu. Unlike the common cold, which takes time to develop, the flu and its symptoms generally come on suddenly. If the flu is caught within the first two days, medications can be given that can reduce the severity and duration of the illness, as well as reduce the chances that complications such as pneumonia will develop.
A sudden fever may be a flu symptom. Adults may develop a fever of about 101 F, while children may develop fevers up to 105 F. Medication may reduce fever; however, aspirin should not be given to children or teens with high fevers because it has been linked to the extremely rare Reye syndrome.
Aches and Pains
Early flu symptoms can be felt throughout the body. Aches and pains may be felt throughout the muscles, particularly in the legs, arms and back. People may feel that their limbs are heavy and throbbing. People can also experience headaches. Pain relievers can be taken to reduce the discomfort of headaches and body pain.
Even in its earliest stages the flu can wipe out a person's energy and leave her weak. Most people with the flu have trouble getting out of bed and walking to the bathroom or turning over in bed. It is important to drink fluids during this time of low energy to keep the body hydrated.
Sweating and Chilling
Early flu symptoms may include alternating bouts of sweating and chills. Fever will cause chills. As the fever goes down it can produce sweating.
Cough and Congestion
Dry cough is an early flu symptom, as is nasal congestion. Cough drops can help relieve the cough while vaporizers, nasal decongestant, and nasal saline sprays can help with congestion. A doctor should be consulted if chest congestion develops.