What are the symptoms of flu?
In adults, common flu symptoms include:
- a temperature of 38°C or higher
- sore throat
- achy muscles, often in your arms, legs, neck, back and shoulders
- blocked nose, or a runny nose
- no appetite
- wheezing when you breathe
Often, the flu will last a couple of days to a week, and you won’t need to see a GP.
However, see a GP if you’re pregnant, over the age of 65 or if your symptoms don’t get better after a week. If you have a chronic condition, such as diabetes, or a weakened immune system, you should also see a GP.
If you start coughing up blood, have chest pain or breathing difficulties, go to A&E or call 999 urgently.
Flu symptoms in children and babies
In children, the symptoms are the same as in adults, as listed above, but you should also look out for:
If your baby or child is showing severe symptoms, or if you’re worried about them, you should see a GP for more advice.
What’s the difference between a cold and the flu?
A cold and the flu are caused by different viruses, but can have similar symptoms, so it can be hard to tell them apart. Flu usually comes on a lot quicker than a cold, which can develop over a few days.
The flu usually has more severe symptoms than a cold too, as listed above. With a cold, you’ll usually only have a runny or blocked nose, a sore throat, sneezing, headaches and sometimes a cough.
The flu can also have serious complications, whereas a cold usually doesn’t have any lasting effects.
Complications caused by flu
Sometimes, the flu can lead to complications, some of which can be very dangerous. Complications may include: