Flu and Its General SymptomsNot all influenza (flu) viruses are the same. Some can make you very ill while others cause milder symptoms. People often use the term "flu" to describe a variety of mild illnesses, such as a cold or a stomach virus that has symptoms like the flu. But real flu is different. Flu hits hard and fast; its symptoms are usually worse and last longer than a cold.
There are several different kinds of flu virus, and even the same flu virus can affect different people in different ways. However, symptoms usually include the following:
- Fever (temperature of greater than 100° F)*
- Sore throat
- Body aches/chills
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Occasionally diarrhea and/or vomiting
Types of flu virus (similar but different)
ALL flu is viral and can be spread through infected droplets from breathing passages. Flu viruses are NOT “airborne.” Rather, droplets are expelled by talking, kissing, spitting, coughing, and sneezing. Droplets can spread up to 3 feet from the infected person, either directly to other people or indirectly through hands and other surfaces before, during, and after an infected person has symptoms. There are three main types of flu viruses: A, B, and C. However, nearly all human infections are caused by Type A or B virus. These are the typical culprits behind “regular” seasonal flu. Type C also causes flu; though, type C flu symptoms are found to be much less severe and are not thought to cause epidemics and do not have subtypes.
What's not flu?
The common cold, and strep throat are both respiratory illnesses that can make you feel terrible, but neither one is caused by the influenza virus.
Intestinal “flu” is not really flu either. It can be caused by many different viruses, bacteria or even parasites. And, while vomiting, diarrhea, and being nauseous or "sick to your stomach" can sometimes be related to the flu – more commonly in children than adults – these problems are rarely the main symptoms of flu.