Dr. Devine, the Associate Medical Director at Highland Family Medicine, said the most common flu symptoms include coughing, fever, fatigue, headaches, sore throats, runny noses, chills, and occassional vomiting and diarrhea.
In addition, some patients might also experience joint pains and muscle aches. There also might be situations where problems relating to respiratory symptoms will be reported, with or without fever.
Dr. Devine said it's easy to mistake the common cold for the flu due to the similarities in some of their symptoms. One of the best ways to distinguish between the two, he said, is to look at how fast your symptoms are developing. Flu symptoms tend to develop very quickly, within one to four days after coming into contact with the influenza virus. The cold can happen suddenly or overnight. The flu is also associated with severe sneezing and coughing, and can be deadly if not quickly treated.
Dr. Devine said there are steps family members or co-workers can take if a person in close contact has gotten the flu. First, the it's important the individual with the illness get it confirmed with a viral culture. If the individuals in the family or co-workers have been exposed less than 48-72 hours, a medication called Oseltamivir (Tamiflu) can be used. It's an antiviral medication can help prevent or reduce the duration of the flu illness. It's safe in children and adults.
In addition to a flu shot, Dr. Devine said the best ways to reduce the chance of catching the flu include hand washing, not sharing utensils with others, and getting plenty of sleep and exercise.
He noted, even if you get the seasonal flu shot individuals are still at risk for catching influenza since there are many strains.