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Can You Have The Flu Without A Fever? Understanding Symptoms Of The Flu

Dr. Alejandro Junger Profile Photo

Written by Dr. Alejandro Junger on May 3, 2021

When cold and flu season rolls around, it can sometimes be hard to know what is making you feel ill. The flu shares plenty of symptoms with other common ailments, meaning sometimes you may not be able to tell if you have a cold, allergies, a sinus infection, or something else medicine company, I think it’s important to help educate patients on common flu symptoms.

Especially this flu season, I have you covered with a complete guide to the flu.


Most Common Symptoms of the Flu

When you, or your kid, come down with the flu, you may be just mildly ill… or you might end up feeling really sick. The flu usually comes on pretty fast and causes a variety of symptoms including:

  • A fever or general feverish feeling
  • Chills
  • A sore throat
  • Congestion
  • Runny nose
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Vomiting and diarrhea, especially in children

When it comes to a fever, not everybody who comes down with the flu will end up having a fever. So, if you have flu-like symptoms but no fever, you really might still have the flu.


Risk Factors and Potential Complications

Even healthy people can catch the flu, and there is always a risk for complications to occur. That said, certain people are at a higher risk of getting sick with the flu, and a higher risk for experiencing complications. Those who are at risk include:

  • People aged 65 years or older
  • Those with chronic medical conditions including diabetes, asthma, and heart disease
  • Pregnant women
  • Children under 5 years old, but especially children less than 2 years old

Certain complications can sometimes also develop from the flu, including pneumonia, ear and sinus infections.


When To Call a Doctor

When you or your child comes down with the flu, you should keep your eyes peeled for emergency symptoms that require medical attention.

For children, emergency symptoms include:

  • Rapid breathing or trouble breathing
  • Chest pain
  • Muscle pain so severe that your child refuses to walk
  • Dehydration
  • Fever above 104 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Any fever in children less than 12 weeks of age

For adults, you should look out for symptoms like:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Constant pain or pressure in the chest and abdomen
  • Dizziness and confusion
  • Difficulty urinating
  • Muscle pain and weakness

That said, without the presence of these emergency symptoms, the flu can sometimes feel like a bad cold or may be hard to distinguish from a sinus infection… so, let’s take a peek at some distinctive symptoms of each.


Distinguishing Between the Flu, a Cold, Allergies, and Sinusitis

Allergies, colds, sinusitis, and the flu may share certain symptoms, but the varying severity of these ailments makes it important to be able to know the difference.

If you are experiencing persistent sneezing, itchy and watery eyes, and watery nasal discharge, you are likely dealing with allergies, which can be treated with antihistamines.


Sneezing accompanied by a low-grade fever, a mild cough, and facial pain or pressure is more likely an indication of a cold. You can successfully treat a cold by getting sufficient rest and opting for nasal decongestants or antihistamines.


Sinusitis comes along with thick, discolored nasal discharge, a low to moderate fever, headaches, mild fatigue, and mild muscle aches. For a sinus infection, the telltale sign will probably be the color and consistency of your nasal discharge, and you can treat a sinus infection with prescription antibiotics.


Finally, the flu shares some of these symptoms, but will cause these symptoms to be more severe. Thus, the flu can cause a high fever, severe cough, and severe muscle aches, headaches, fatigue, and muscle weakness. That said, sometimes your case of the flu may be mild, and this can make it harder to recognize.


So, if you suspect that you or your child might have the flu, it is worth getting in touch with a doctor to get a diagnosis. A case of the flu will not respond to antihistamines or antibiotics, which may help you in figuring out what exactly the problem is!


Treatment for the Flu

If you or your kiddos have caught the flu, not to fear, there are plenty of ways that you can approach treatment.


One of the most important things you can do to improve a case of the flu is to get lots and lots (and lots!) of rest, as this is the time that your body takes to restore and heal itself. Making sure to drink plenty of fluids every day can also make a big ol’ difference.


Over-the-counter medicines like acetaminophen can help with any muscle aches or fever, too. When it comes to these medicines, though, it can sometimes be tough to find great products that do not contain a host of artificial inactive ingredients… and we know you might not want these kinds of ingredients to enter your or your child’s system.


Genexa’s Kids’ Pain & Fever acetaminophen oral suspension contains the active ingredients you need without those artificial inactive ingredients you don’t need. In fact, it contains the same active ingredient as Children’s Tylenol.


Genexa was founded by two dads who are on a mission to revolutionize the medicine aisle Genexa is the first clean medicine brand, meaning they make medicines with the same active ingredients as leading OTC brands without synthetic inactive ingredients found in most formulas. The inactive ingredients included in Genexa’s products are there to flavor, stabilize, preserve or emulsify the formulas. All of these ingredients are certified vegan, non-GMO, and even gluten and lactose-free! Genexa makes real, clean medicine you can trust so that you can help ease your child’s symptoms without having to worry.


Sometimes, in more severe cases of the flu, prescription antiviral medications may be necessary, but these may come with side effects like nausea and vomiting, which can be lessened if you take the medication with food.


Staying in touch with a doctor throughout the duration of the illness will help keep you on the right path, or help you keep your child on the road to recovery. If any symptoms seem to get better and then worsen again, or if your symptoms do not seem to be improving at all, your doctor will be your best resource and can offer you some guidance as well as any necessary prescriptions.


When it comes to introducing medicine to your child, it is always best to consult your pediatrician first.


The Bottom Line

The flu can vary in severity, but some of the most common symptoms include a high fever, a cough, chills, a sore throat, and muscle aches. A fever will not always be present in every case, but it is a telltale sign that your sickness is probably more than just a cold.


More severe symptoms, like shortness of breath, dizziness and confusion, chest pain, and severe muscle pain are all signs that you should seek medical attention, because these may be indications of certain complications caused by the flu. Certain groups of people are at a higher risk of falling ill, including those over the age of 65, pregnant women, and those with chronic medical conditions.


Treating the flu can be as simple as getting plenty of rest and drinking tons of fluids, but over-the-counter or prescription medications may be helpful in cases where symptoms are worse or more persistent. We hope you feel better soon.


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