You’ve got chills (and they're multiplying)
“There are certain illnesses that have an abrupt onset, where one minute you’re well, and then suddenly, you’re not,” says Steven Lamm, MD, clinical professor of medicine and medical director of the Tisch Center for Men’s Health at NYU Langone Medical Center. That's very typical of influenza. Flu symptoms include the rapid onset of chills and fatigue, says Dr. Lamm. When you’re coming down with a virus like a cold, you’re more likely to feel mild fatigue or a scratchy throat; symptoms come on more slowly than for flu. Abrupt shaking, chills, and fever are usually signs of influenza or a bacterial infection that needs to be examined soon, suggests Dr. Lamm. Here are some more clear signs a cold is coming—and what to do about it.
You’re sweating like a truck driver in Texas
Sweating often accompanies fever and chills as part of everyday viral and bacterial infections. But if you’re soaking through your clothes and sheets (and you don’t normally have night sweats), let your doctor know. Being drenched in sweat when you aren't exercising, exerting energy, or doing battle with a known infection is likely cause for concern. It could just be overactive sweat glands or menopause, but serious conditions that cause excessive sweating include cancer, heart disease, glucose control issues, lung disease, or medication side effects. These are the signs excessive sweating is something serious.
Your stomach is mad at you
Vague nausea, some abdominal cramping, or a little diarrhea are early signs that your stomach is off. When someone has gastroenteritis (inflammation of the lining of the GI tract caused by bacteria or a virus), they might experience nausea, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and vomiting. Most people recover without treatment but be sure to drink fluids, since dehydration is common when you have this illness. Here are some tips for preventing the stomach flu.
You’ve got a temperature
If you’re sneezing, have a headache, or feel sluggish this spring, you may be wondering if you're coming down with a cold or just suffering from allergies. When you have a cold you feel sick and generally have a low-grade temperature, says Dr. Lamm. (These other cold symptoms will definitely surprise you.) With allergic rhinitis and hay fever, you may feel congested and have repetitive sneezing, but if you tend to feel this way every spring and fall and don’t have a temperature, it's likely just seasonal allergies.
Your appetite is MIA
If you’re coming down with gastroenteritis, you might have a sense of abdominal fullness where you don’t feel like eating. Not having an appetite or not enjoying foods you normally do could also signal that you’re on the brink of becoming ill with other kinds of infections, from a cold to strep throat. Here's what you really should try to eat when you have a cold or the flu.
You feel mentally blah
Feel irritable or down in the dumps? Don’t want to jump out of the bed even though you’re normally a morning exerciser? These telltale signs could mean you’re coming down with something. “[When you're getting sick] there’s mild depression in that you don’t want to go out with your friends, you don’t want to go shopping, or do things you enjoy … these are clues that something is brewing,” says Dr. Lam. Try some of these natural cold remedies the next time you're coming down with something.
Bottom line: Pay attention to your body
“A lot of people get into trouble with their health because they don’t tune in to what their bodies are telling them,” says Dr. Lamm. Listen to the severity, abruptness, and duration of symptoms you’re feeling. “When your body is ill, it needs to focus all of its energy on the immune system and healing,” says Dr. Lamm. So cut yourself some slack, focus on rest, stay hydrated, eat well-balanced meals, and call your doctor if you experience sudden changes.