Flu (Influenza) : The Symptoms & How To Treat It

What is Influenza?

Similarly, to the common cold, the flu (Influenza) is also caused by a virus that affects the respiratory tract (nose, throat and lungs). The flu is caused by the influenza virus and the symptoms experienced are more severe and long-lasting than those of a cold. The virus is spread mainly through air droplets through talking, coughing or sneezing. Symptoms usually appear from one to four days after exposure to the virus and can last for up to 1 to 2 weeks.

The effects of the flu can range from mild to severe. Older people and those with certain underlying health conditions are more prone to complications if they catch the flu. Flu vaccines are available every year to protect against the virus and are best administered in the Autumn before the virus starts circulating.


  • Sore throat
  • Cough
  • Blocked or runny nose
  • Headache
  • High temperature
  • Shivering
  • Aching muscles
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue

Main differences between the flu and the common cold:

  • Flu symptoms are generally worse than cold symptoms and can leave you feeling very fatigued for up to 3 weeks after infection
  • Flu symptoms tend to come on quickly whilst colds come on gradually
  • Muscle aches and headaches are a lot more common with the flu than colds

How to manage flu symptoms:

  • Get plenty of rest to allow your body to recover and fight off the virus
  • Drink lots of fluids to prevent dehydration
  • Painkillers such as paracetamol or ibuprofen can help to reduce your temperature and ease any aches or pains
  • Decongestants can help to open up the nasal passages and relieve congestion
  • Sleep on an extra pillow at night if you have a blocked nose can also help to relieve congestion

Travelpharm stocks a wide range of cold and flu medicines to help you deal with the symptoms of flu.

Written by Yasmine Bakr MPharm (Pharmacist)
GPhC Reg: 2220897

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