How do you know if you have the flu?
Are some of your symptoms leading you to believe that you have the flu? Influenza, more commonly referred to as the flu, is a contagious respiratory illness cause by influenza viruses (and yes there are more than one strains of this illness). Common flu symptoms include, but are not limited to the following: fever, headache, tiredness, cough, sore throat, tiredness, cough, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, diarrhea and vomiting. These symptoms usually come on suddenly and can last for a while before you discover that all of your symptoms may in fact be the flu.

But not to worry, just because you may present with one or more of these symptoms does not necessarily mean that you have the flu.

Many other illnesses including the common cold, have similar symptoms. But that doesn't mean you should just shrug it off as the common cold, if you feel as though your symptoms are getting worse instead of better, than maybe you should consult a physician.

You yourself cannot distinguish the difference between the symptoms of a flu and a common cold, you must consult a doctor so they can further assess you symptoms. A more thorough examination by a doctor can tell you whether you have the flu, or you are experiencing complications from having the flu. And not to fret, there are many tests that can tell you whether you have the flu, but make sure you catch it within the first two days of your feeling sick.

It is even more important if you are a high risk patient that you consult a doctor as soon as possible. People who are considered high risk are those who are 65 years or older, people with chronic medical conditions (including but not limited to asthma, diabetes, or heart disease) people who are pregnant, and young children. All of the listed above have one thing in common, they all have weakened immune systems, and should be the first to consult a doctor if they are worried about having one of the many symptoms of the flu.

If you do not act on the symptoms of the flu soon enough, you are at a higher risk of having further complications including bacterial pneumonia, dehydration, and worsening of chronic medical conditions -- health conditions, asthma, or diabetes.

Every one's body is different, and reactions to the flu can vary greatly from person to person. Some people can recover just fine from the flu, others may have a more difficult time getting over the flu, and children are particularly fragile in the they still have weaker immune systems.

And now all this talk about how to go about finding out if you have the flu, it would be important to know how to prevent it as well. The flu is an air born illness, and can be contracted by close contact. Thus the flu is somewhat hard to avoid. The best advice is plan ahead. There is an inactivated flu -- the 'flu shot' vaccine that patients can get before flu season starts to help prevent you from contracting the flu virus. And now for those of us who are afraid of needles can now get a nasal spray flu vaccine which is most recommended for people healthy people over the age of two. Both ways are very efficient in helping to prevent you from contracting the flu, but there is no sure thing. So be cautious during flu season. Avoid contact with those who may have the flu and practice good personal hygiene.