Most of the respiratory illnesses experienced during the flu season are not necessarily caused by the flu. Other organisms like coronaviruses, rhinoviruses, parainfluenza, etc are the culprits. Influenza and the common cold normally have similar symptoms. However, influenza symptoms are more severe and develop abruptly (within hours), while acute cold symptoms occur gradually, taking up to 2 days. Apart from the muscle aches, high fever and dry coughs, severe headache with flu can be very devastating.
What to Do with Headaches with Flu?
Home remedies may not treat the flu, but they will definitely make you feel better. Anything that helps clear nasal congestion or reduce the pressure in your head will help reduce the headache.
A warm cloth placed on the face near the sinuses will help loosen mucus resulting in reduced congestion and inflammation. It will reduce the pressure around your face and eyes.
You can also clear congestion by inhaling steam with pepper mint or any other inhalation containing menthol. Take care not to scald yourself. You could also apply a cool cloth on the temples or forehead. It dilates blood vessels reducing the pain and pressure in the head.
Lie down in a quiet room with dimmed or no lights. Avoid lying flat as it could worsen nasal congestion.
In addition to severe headache with flu, you can also experience the following:
Severe muscle and joint aches
Tiredness and pain around the eye area
Weakness and fatigue
Runny nose and sore throat
Although it is rare for adults with seasonal flu to vomit or diarrhea, children do sometimes. Some symptoms could imply a severe flu and require immediate medical attention. They include:
Short breath or trouble breathing
Pressure or pain in belly or chest
Usually, plenty of fluids and bed rest is all you need to treat the flu. However, in severe cases, your doctor may prescribe antivirals. If taken immediately the symptoms show, the medication can shorten the flu duration by a day or so and reduce chances of serious complications.
It is advisable to consult a doctor if you do not know the cause of the headaches. If the headaches are accompanied by dizziness, confusion or vomiting or they are very persistent you have cause to worry. The doctor will rule out any underlying causes after which they may prescribe anti-viral drugs. Prescriptions are normally given to people with severe flu or vulnerable patients like the elderly. However, you can get over-the-counter flu remedies containing aspirin or paracetamol that are meant to reduce fever. Severe headaches with flu will mostly ease up if the fever goes down.
Are There Herbal Remedies to Help?
The best way to use these remedies is by addressing the underlying problem and boosting the immune system instead of treating individual symptoms. Go for licensed herbal remedies to help treat the infection faster. Alternatively, you can drink soothing herbal teas to make you feel better generally.
Make Sure It’s Not Meningitis
Bacterial and viral meningitis are the two most common types of meningitis. Other forms, which are rare, include fungal, parasitic and non-infectious meningitis. All the types show similar symptoms which include:
A sudden severe headache and stiff neck
Nausea and vomiting
Agitation/ change in mental status
Being sensitive to light
If not diagnosed early, meningitis can cause serious complications or even death. It is necessary to be aware and always on the lookout for warning signs and seek medical attention immediately. Sometimes, meningitis symptoms are confused for flu symptoms making it tricky to diagnose and seek early treatment. However, as much as they both cause headaches, the stiff neck caused by meningitis does not occur with flu. Additionally, respiratory symptoms like a cough are usually associated with flu more than meningitis.
Genuine Advice from Someone Who’s Been There
“I just got flu which lasted for five days and I must say severe headaches with flu are crazy. It hurt really bad. I could not roll my eyes in any direction. I had to lie in bed in a dark room taking care not to move my head. I also agree that if you feel pain when moving your neck, rush to the ER and get checked for meningitis. They will give you drugs to ease the pain immediately. The fever went up to 103. A fever as high as 104 requires immediate medical attention as it could lead to a seizure. I advise you to keep yourself hydrated to recover quickly. Be ready for your temperature to break. You will be drenched with sweat to the point your sheets feel wet. You will have to change your clothes as well. I got so scared when I woke up wet. But when the fever broke, my immune system got stronger than the virus.”