The flu- we’ve all had it. But is it really what people think it is? Much of the time, when people think they have the flu, they are actually suffering from food poisoning of some sort. Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea are not typical symptoms of the flu.
In fact, the usual symptoms include a sudden fever, coughing, head and muscle aches, joint pain, nasal congestion, and a sore throat. Still, these symptoms can be mistaken for a cold virus, as well. The only way to know if it is indeed the flu is to see the doctor within 2 to 3 days of the start of the illness.
It is important to understand the difference between the flu and food poisoning, because the flu can lead to complications involving the lungs. Those with asthma, for example, are more vulnerable to the flu than others and will thus need to be more aware of the development of flu-like symptoms.
Others who are more vulnerable to complications of the flu include pregnant women, babies and toddlers, adults over the age of 64, people with compromised immune system function, and those with chronic illnesses of the lungs like COPD.
Generally, uncompromised individuals will be recommended to bed rest, liquids, and treatment of the fever, if it gets high. For those who are at greater risk, antivirals may be prescribed, but only when the symptoms are caught early (within the first day or two of illness). For this reason, such individuals and their caregivers must be vigilant about catching signs of the flu early and seeking medical help.
Those who suffer from lung diseases (like asthma or COPD) cannot use the inhaled powder antiviral Relenza, but must use the pill antiviral called Tamiflu instead. The powdered inhalant can increase breathing problems in those with these conditions. Treating high-risk individuals with antiviral medication can help prevent pneumonia and other complications of the flu.
Information on this page is for reference and educational purposes only. For more information about influenza, talk to your doctor or primary care provider.