2016 Flu Symptoms

Sick woman in bed
What you need to know about the flu in 2016. South_agency/E+/Getty Images

Concerned about the flu in 2016? Actual flu symptoms don't typically change much from year to year but there are some important things you should know. 

When Will Flu Activity Be Highest?

Peak flu activity typically occurs in the United States any time between December and March. The flu has been relatively mild during the beginning of the 2015-2016 season and will likely peak in February or March.

Each year is different.

Factors such as how severe the circulating influenza virus is, how many people have been vaccinated against it, how well matched the vaccine is to the virus and others all impact how bad each flu season will be. Unfortunately we just don't know until it happens.

What You Can Expect

If you do get the flu, expect to feel pretty bad for about a week. It is much more than a bad cold. The flu comes on suddenly and makes it difficult to do pretty much anything other than lay around. Common symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Sore Throat
  • Body Aches
  • Headache
  • Fatigue/Exhaustion

Some people may experience vomiting or diarrhea when they get the flu. This is more common in children. If your primary symptoms are vomiting and diarrhea, you most likely have gastroenteritis - a stomach bug - and not influenza. 

What You Can Do

If you think you have the flu, contact your health care provider. Although the flu is rarely an emergency, seeking medical care within the first 48 hours of the start of your symptoms means you are more likely to benefit from antiviral medications, like Tamiflu.

However, if you aren't at high risk for complications from the flu and aren't regularly around anyone who is, your health care provider may choose not to prescribe antivirals. Most otherwise healthy adults and older children recover from the flu without any problems. 

If you are feeling really terrible, make sure you are actually dealing with an emergency situation before heading to the Emergency Room.

The flu can make your whole body hurt and most people say things like "I think I'm dying", when they really aren't. But there are some cases that do require immediate attention at the hospital. If you are truly having difficulty breathing (or your child is), don't wait. If someone you are caring for has the flu and is acting very confused or hallucinating, seek medical attention right away. 

If you are trying to recover from the flu, there are things you can do at home to get some relief. Taking over the counter medications that treat the symptoms you have, getting as much rest as you can and staying hydrated are important. You probably won't have a huge appetite but drinking plenty of fluids is essential when you are sick. You can get dehydrated more easily when you have a fever and even more so if you are vomiting or have diarrhea. Drink plenty of water or electrolyte drinks (such as Gatorade or Pedialyte). Stay home from work or school so you can recover - and avoid spreading your germs to others.

No matter how severe the 2016 flu season is, there will be people that get it and some will lose their lives to it. Be sure to get your flu vaccine if you haven't already. It's your best protection against the flu. 


"Children, the Flu and the Flu Vaccine". Seasonal Influenza (Flu) 21 Aug 15. US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Department of Health and Human Services. National Institutes of Health. 27 Jan 16.

"What You Should Know for the 2015-2016 Flu Season". Seasonal Influenza (Flu) 19 Nov 15. US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Department of Health and Human Services. National Institutes of Health. 28 Jan 16.

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