The flu, or influenza, is a viral infection that mainly affects your nose, lungs and throat. The flu can cause diarrhea, vomiting and a decreased appetite. Although the flu may have similar symptoms to the common cold or the stomach flu, it is the effects of the influenza virus. The flu can lead to serious complications, affecting tens of thousands a year in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. You symptoms need to be evaluated by a medical doctor. At the first signs of the flu, call your doctor and make an appointment.
The most common symptoms of the flu are chills, body aches, dizziness, headaches, nausea, lack of energy, flushed face, nausea and vomiting. Other symptoms may include asthma, heart failure, sweating, stuffy nose, loss of appetite and muscle aches. General symptoms last for about two to four days and then subside. The respiratory symptoms remain for four to seven days.
Loss of appetite is common, especially if you’ve developed symptoms affecting the digestive system, such as vomiting, nausea or diarrhea. Dehydration is a concern with the flu, according to the National Institutes of Health. Increase your liquid intake by sipping on hot tea, soups and water. Eat a basic diet that consists of bland foods, such as toast, white rice, bananas, chicken and boiled potatoes. If you are unable to keep any food down, call your doctor for further evaluation.
There is no cure for the flu. Your appetite may not return until the virus is out of your system. Your doctor may prescribe specific anti-viral medications, if she deems it beneficial. Other than prescribed medications, the NIH recommends rest, increased liquid intake and the use of over-the-counter medications to help alleviate symptoms.
The best defense against getting the flu is to implement preventive measures, according to the CDC. Schedule and stay consistent at receiving an annual vaccination. Wash your hands often with hot water and soap. Use hand sanitizers when water is not available. Disinfect commonly used items and objects, such as door knobs, countertops and toilets. Avoid contact with sick people; stay home if you have a temperature over 100 Fahrenheit. Keep children home from school or daycare if they appear to be sick.
If you experience rapid weight loss, feel faint or develop a fever over 100.5 Fahrenheit, get emergency medical attention. These may be signs of a more serious condition unrelated to the flu.