WebMD BlogsPublic Health

'Can You Have the Flu Without a Fever?'

man sick fever
By Elizabeth Hanes, BSN, RNDecember 17, 2020

As a nurse, I get questions from friends and family about symptoms all the time. A friend might call me to say, “Can you have flu without a fever? Because I feel like I might have the flu, but my temperature is normal.”

Sometimes they’re surprised when I tell them, yes, you can have the flu without having a fever.

Every human body is unique in how it responds to illness, and viruses can behave differently inside every individual body. That’s why, when we talk about the symptoms of an illness, we generally describe a broad range of potential symptoms a person could have. For example, the list of possible symptoms of influenza includes:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Sore throat
  • Coughing
  • Runny nose
  • Muscle aches
  • Fatigue
  • Headache

But not every person who comes down with the flu will have every single symptom on that list. If you have a mild case of flu, for instance, your body may never generate a fever to fight the virus. Or you might develop a wicked cough but never have a headache because the influenza virus became more active in your lungs than in your sinuses.

If you come down with a flu-like illness, call your doctor’s office for guidance about what to do. Influenza and COVID-19 share many common symptoms (including fever and cough), so you should not self-diagnose. Do not assume you have the flu and not COVID-19 -- or vice versa. Instead, call your doctor to find out if you should get a flu test, a COVID-19 test, or something else (because a great many viruses can cause flu-like symptoms).

And be sure to isolate yourself from family members and the public. Both influenza and COVID-19 are contagious, and you need to avoid spreading whatever illness you have to other people. Wear a mask (even at home), keep physically distant, and wash your hands frequently.

Also, rest and drink plenty of fluids to help you feel better -- fever or not.

 

 

 

WebMD Blog
© 2020 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.

More from the Public Health Blog

View all posts on Public Health

Latest Blog Posts on WebMD

View all blog posts

Important: The opinions expressed in WebMD Blogs are solely those of the User, who may or may not have medical or scientific training. These opinions do not represent the opinions of WebMD. Blogs are not reviewed by a WebMD physician or any member of the WebMD editorial staff for accuracy, balance, objectivity, or any other reason except for compliance with our Terms and Conditions. Some of these opinions may contain information about treatments or uses of drug products that have not been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. WebMD does not endorse any specific product, service or treatment.

Do not consider WebMD Blogs as medical advice. Never delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice from your doctor or other qualified healthcare provider because of something you have read on WebMD. You should always speak with your doctor before you start, stop, or change any prescribed part of your care plan or treatment. WebMD understands that reading individual, real-life experiences can be a helpful resource, but it is never a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment from a qualified health care provider. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or dial 911 immediately.

Read More