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Is it the flu?

Tuesday, February 06, 2018

It may be flu season, but your sneezing may not point to the deductively obvious. Anindra Siqueira suggests taking this quiz to find out whether your symptoms signal the flu or something else

The sniffles. You’re sneezing. Your body aches. And you’ve got a stuffy nose. But these may not mean that you have the flu or the common cold. So, how should you tell? Well, short of getting examined by a doctor, take this quiz to find out whether it might be the flu or something else.

1. First things first! Did the mystery ailment manifest with a fever or increased body temperature?
a) Yes. My body temperature shot up and stayed there for a few days.
b) I didn’t have a fever. My body temperature was normal.
c) I had the chills, along with mildly elevated body temperature.

2. Did you or do you experience chills and sweats?
a) Yes. It’s strange. I was feeling cold but I was sweating.
b) No chills. Just a stuffy nose.
c) I was lethargic and feeling almost completely drained of energy.

3. What about body aches? Where and how severe is it, if at all it is present?
a) The aches are severe and appear all over my body. I feel cramped and can’t even move at times.
b) I have a mild body ache and headache. Nothing serious.
c) There are aches and pains, in specific areas all over my body.

4. Have you experienced fatigue and muscle weakness?
a) I was holed up at home for more than a week! What else could it be!
b) I experienced only mild fatigue, and could carry on almost as usual.
c) I did feel lethargic, but I could still go on with my day. It wasn’t stifling.

5. How quickly did the ailment come on?
a) I was fine, and then all of a sudden I was hit by a fever and a dry cough.
b) I guess it took a few days for the symptoms to show up fully.
c) My nose was stuffed up (or runny) and I was sneezing a lot.

6. Was your throat affected in any way?
a) I have a dry cough, one that I cannot seem to shake.
b) My throat is sore and it hurts while swallowing.
c) There is pain at the back of my throat and it feels raw.

7. Did you experience nausea or retching?
a) I wouldn’t describe it like that, but occasionally I do feel slightly sea sick, even though I am on land.
b) No. It’s primarily my nose that’s affected.
c) There is a sick feeling of nausea.

Flu or flu-like?
What’s the difference? The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by the influenza virus, whereas a flu-like illness is a broader category. While the flu virus affects the nose and throat, and sometimes even the lungs, a flu-like illness is characterised by a fever, cough and sore throat, according to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), where the cause is unknown.

Mostly As: You are most probably suffering from the flu. Since it is caused by a virus, it often comes on quickly and can lead to elevated body temperature. Other symptoms include fever, sore throat, cough, muscle aches, headache, chills and fatigue.

Mostly Bs: You are likely suffering from a cold. While a cold has symptoms in common with the flu, such as a sore throat, body aches, headache and low-grade fever, it is generally accompanied by a runny or stuffy nose, a cough, congestion and sneezing. If not treated it can advance to wheezing, shortness of breath, a severely sore throat and a high-temperature fever.

Mostly Cs: It appears that your symptoms are more flu-like than the common cold or the flu. While some of them may point to the flu, others seem to contradict this. A visit to the doctor may be in order, who will be able to advise further on your condition and what course of action to take.

Dealing with the symptoms

Don’t let the flu or the common cold get you down. Here’s what you can do:

  •  Drink lots of fluids: Fever and respiratory infections can dehydrate you. So make sure you are replenishing lost fluids.
  •  Get rest and lots of sleep: This is essential. Your body needs the rest in order to recuperate properly.
  •  Perform steam inhalation: Steam will open up your sinuses. It also aids in drainage if your nasal passages are congested.
  •  Take medicines to counter the symptoms: Over-the-counter medication can help combat the symptoms such as congestion and cough.
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