/ Cold & flu
Flu-Like Symptoms

You’ve got a fever and a cough – it must be the flu, right? Not necessarily. There are many diseases that have flu-like symptoms that aren’t the flu. How does that affect the medical care you receive? Let’s talk about it.

What Are Flu-like Symptoms?

The flu shares many symptoms with other diseases. Symptoms that could indicate the flu or another flu-like illness include:

  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Stuffy or runny nose
  • Body aches or chills
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Fever

What’s The Difference Between The Flu And Flu-like Symptoms?

The flu is caused by the influenza virus, while flu-like symptoms can be caused by a wide variety of ailments. Most flu-like symptoms are caused by viruses, while some may be caused by bacteria.

Additionally, many doctors don’t test for the flu virus in otherwise healthy adults, and the rapid test for the flu isn’t very reliable. That means that it’s possible to be diagnosed with flu-like symptoms when you do, in fact, have the flu, but your doctor doesn’t feel it’s necessary to order a flu test.

For many flu-like symptoms, treatment will be the same as if you have the flu, consisting primarily of home remedies to treat the symptoms.

Antibiotics don’t treat the flu or any flu-like symptoms caused by a virus. Antiviral treatments like Tamiflu can help you recover from the flu one or two days faster if you take it within 48 hours of the onset of symptoms, but those antiviral treatments may not be as effective against flu-like symptoms that are not caused by the flu virus.

Other Diseases With Flu-like Symptoms

So if you don’t have the flu, what do you have? There are many possibilities, but here are some of the most common flu-like illnesses:

Treatment For The Flu And Flu-like Symptoms

Unless you have severe symptoms, or you think you or your child have a bacterial infection like strep throat, treatment for the flu and flu-like symptoms are basically the same.

  • Over-the-counter pain relievers and fever reducers like ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) or acetaminophen (Tylenol)
  • Over-the-counter cold and flu medicine to treat things like cough and congestion
  • Drink plenty of fluids
  • Rest and get lots of sleep
  • Use steam or saline rinses to clear out stuffy nasal passages

How PlushCare Can Help

If you or your child are experiencing flu-like symptoms, you can make an appointment to speak to a PlushCare doctor through a phone or video chat by clicking here or calling (888) 690-1562. Your doctor will listen to your symptoms and can prescribe medication if necessary.

Prescriptions are electronically sent to your pharmacy. If you have a friend or family member who can pick up your prescription for you, you don’t even have to leave the house when you’re sick with flu-like symptoms! Stay at home and recover without needing to go to a doctor's office.

Read More About The Flu

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Jennifer Nelson

Jennifer is a freelance writer in the Midwest who writes about a variety of topics but especially enjoys educating people about their health and the health of their pets.

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