Sofie Wise

Jennifer Nelson

Read more posts by this author.

About Author — 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.

Most PlushCare articles are reviewed by M.D.s, Ph.Ds, N.P.s, nutritionists and other healthcare professionals. Click here to learn more and meet some of the professionals behind our blog.

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
    Blog_CTA--1-

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

Flu

Should You Go to the Doctor for the Flu?

The flu is a miserable experience. The coughing, sneezing, body aches and pains make you wish you could sleep it off but also make it difficult to do so. While most people recover from the flu on their own within a week or two, 200,000 people per year in the United States are hospitalized for […]

Jennifer Nelson
Flu

Can You Buy Tamiflu Over the Counter?

Can You Buy Tamiflu Over the Counter? You can get a prescription for Tamiflu from your doctor, but it is not available over the counter. Tamiflu is an antiviral medication used for the treatment and prevention of influenza (flu). It has been shown to be effective at helping to prevent the flu, and at reducing […]

Dr. Heidi Lightfoot
Flu

Can You Buy Tamiflu Over the Counter?

Can You Buy Tamiflu Over the Counter? You can get a prescription for Tamiflu from your doctor, but it is not available over the counter. Tamiflu is an antiviral medication used for the treatment and prevention of influenza (flu). It may be effective at preventing the flu, and at reducing the severity or duration of […]

Dr. Heidi Lightfoot
Flu

Tamiflu: Flu Treatment, Side Effects, and Cost

Tamiflu: Flu Treatment, Side Effects, and Cost Every winter, each cough and sneeze makes you wary. Nobody wants to catch the flu and be out of work or school for a week. Unfortunately, many people catch the flu every year, and approximately 10,000-50,000 people even die from it every year. What should you do if […]

Natalie Griffen