The flu is an infection of the respiratory tract which is caused by the quick acting influenza virus. Influenza is the more scientific name for the flu. After contamination by the flu virus, it can take between two and seven days before getting really sick. This delay is called the incubation period. Generally, the first flu symptoms occur after two to three days.
The symptoms associated with the common cold and the flu feel similar at the beginning:
A runny nose, a sore throat, watery eyes, coughing and sneezing. With a cold, you may feel a bit “fluish”, but after a few days the symptoms usually disappear.
You can recognize a real flu by:
- a high fever which may rise to 39°C or higher within 12 hours
- cold shivers
- pounding headache
- a sore throat
- muscle ache all over the body
- runny nose
- dry cough
- diminished appetite
- feeling tired and weak
Most complaints disappear after a week. But the fatigue can drag on for days and sometimes weeks. The cough can also continue for several weeks.
A serious cold is often confused with the flu. During a flu epidemic, the term flu is often used the wrong way. Fair enough: the symptoms are very similar. Do you know the difference between the flu and a cold? Thanks to our overview you will no longer be mistaken.
Just to get the main flu symptoms straight:
It is clear now that the symptoms of a serious cold and the flu are very similar. How do you know then if it is the flu?
- Period of time: Someone with the flu is easily out of commission for a full week. A cold is usually over in a few days.
- Chance of catching the flu: The chance of catching the flu is usually higher during a flu epidemic. Are you really sick while there is a real flu epidemic going on? Chances are that you got it, and that it is not a cold.
- The intensity of the flu: Someone who has had the flu, recognizes it for sure. You feel really sick. Is the severity of your symptoms rather average or do you feel miserable?
- Occurrence: The symptoms of the flu occur very suddenly, for example within a 3 hour period. That makes the flu sudden. With a cold, it takes several days and even weeks.
- Type of cough: Although it does not give a definite answer, the type of cough is indicative. A dry cough or tickling cough often occurs with a flu. Do you suffer from a productive cough? Then it is more likely a (serious) cold.
- Fever: The simplest way to determine if you have the flu? Take your body temperature to see if you have a fever. In an adult there is hardly ever a question of fever with a cold. With a flu you can run a fever for a few consecutive days .
Your best weapon against the flu virus is your immune system. The higher your resistance, the smaller the chance the virus can multiply in your body. A healthy lifestyle allows you to keep your resistance at a good level. A few tips:
- Eat healthy and varied foods: enough fruits and vegetables.
- Fruit is an excellent source of vitamins and antioxidants. Lemon, blueberries and raspberries are great to give your immune system an extra boost.
- Extra tip: begin each day with fresh lemon juice in a glass of water or a cup of tea;
- Eat dark green vegetables such as broccoli or kale. They are loaded with vitamin C.
- Avoid stress;
- Get plenty of rest and sleep! Most of us need to take EXTRA rest and sleep. Try to sleep 6 to 8 hours minimum, since a sufficient night's rest is essential for a good resistance;
- Get into motion, preferably in the open air;
- Use vitamin C;
- Furthermore: wash your hands and stay away from coughing, sneezy people.
My advice for flu symptoms is Echinaforce liquid or Echinaforce Extra.
- Krista Halton, Flu Coach
The best tip with insufficient resistance or the flu? Echinaforce Extra.
Echinaforce Extra contains proven effective ingredients which reinforce the immune system especially in times of stress, lack of sleep and for smokers. Hereby the resistance increases against bacterial and viral infections. You are less likely to get sick, and if you do, you will recover more quickly! More info
Not only do you suffer from a sore throat, but you also feel miserable and you have a fever? Then, you probably have the flu. If you want to know if it is the common cold or the flu, do the test!
Click below to download the infographic (PDF) and look what you can do to avoid the flu with our tips!
The flu is very contagious. You can infect somebody with the flu:
1 day before your first symptoms and until 5 to 7 days after becoming sick
Sneeze droplets float in the air for 20 minutes
Therefore, ventilate sufficiently. Regularly open a window to let fresh air in. Leave your bedroom window ajar during the night.
On average, you touch your face 2000-4000 times a day
Therefore: Keep away from your face! Viruses spread easily from your hands, to your mouth, eyes and nose.
And be a bit less sociable:
- don’t shake any hands
- no birthday kisses
- no hospital visits
- don’t pick up a phone call from a colleague
Your smartphone is 10x dirtier than the toilet seat!
So, clean your telephone once and a while. Don't forget the taps, door knobs, light switches, handrails and of course, your keyboard!
And talking about the toilet, wash your hands for 15 seconds after going to the bathroom but also...when you get home, before dinner and after being in contact with a large group of people.
The flu virus is transmitted via small saliva droplets in the air. These droplets are very contagious. By breathing this contaminated air, the virus penetrates the respiratory system, where can replicate itself very quickly. It is also transmitted through direct contact (kissing, shaking hands) and indirect contact (door knob, telephone).
When should you consult your doctor about the flu? In some cases, the flu does not go away by itself. Other diseases may occur that do need to be treated, such as pneumonia.
Please contact your general practitioner if you have the flu and:
- become short of breath;
- an unusual amount of mucus becomes loose while coughing;
- you become drowsy;
- you drink or urinate very little;
- the fever persists more than five days;
- you get a fever after having been fever free for a couple of days.
Please contact your general practitioner if your child has the flu and a fever in the following cases:
- If your child is younger than 2.
- if your child is older than 2 and the fever lasts longer than 3 days.
The flu virus is hard to beat. So, if at any moment you suffer from flu symptoms, taking it slow will be the best remedy. Of course it is better to altogether avoid the illness. You can do that by taking care of your immune system. This is particularly important for people who belong to one of the higher risk group:
- Age 65 and older
- people with heart and artery diseases
- people with pulmonary diseases
- people with diabetes
- people with a reduced resistance against infections
For these people, the flu vaccine may be the best precautionary measure. Beware that in spite of the flu shot, you can still get the flu. The risk is higher if someone in your close environment has the flu.