With this year's record-breaking flu season in full swing, it's understandable that most everyone is hyper-aware of flu symptoms and what the flu could look like in both children and adults. Since flu symptoms can be so common to cold symptoms, it can often be hard to tell until you're in the thick of it. But, if you're trying to get pregnant, it can get even more confusing. Sometimes, flu and early pregnancy signs look alike, so you want to be more aware of what you're looking for.
As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) mentioned, the flu comes on abruptly — one day you're feeling fine, and the next, you are down for the count. The onset of symptoms related to early pregnancy can be similar. Of course, symptoms for both the flu and pregnancy can vary from person to person, so there is no guarantee you could experience all, or any, of these symptoms. But, as we continue on through this flu season, it definitely can't hurt to be aware of what common symptoms of the flu and pregnancy look like, and how to tell whether you're sick or pregnant. Seriously, morning sickness can leave you feeling like you just got hit with a mega virus.
Both the flu and pregnancy can make you feel suddenly fatigued. You might feel like it's harder to get out of bed in the morning, or be desperate for naps throughout the day. The CDC noted that fatigue is definitely a symptom of the flu — it's not as common in typical colds — and flu sufferers often feel like they cannot even sit up.
According to Health, feeling extremely tired is also one of the most common signs of early pregnancy. Your body is gearing up for a ton of changes, and all your extra calories are going to your uterus, leaving the rest of your body lacking in some much needed energy.
Nausea and vomiting are, stereotypically, telltale signs of pregnancy, but they are also common flu symptoms. Morning sickness, as it's referred to in pregnancy, can bring about nausea, vomiting, cramping, and other stomach-related queasiness, mentioned Parents. "Loss of appetite, which is also a symptom in influenza, can also be seen in pregnancy as a result of nausea and vomiting," says Dr. Tami Prince, MD, OB-GYN, and Medical Director for U.S. HealthWorks. The CDC noted that vomiting and diarrhea can be symptoms of the flu, but are seen more often in children, rather than adults.
Aches and pains are notorious flu symptoms, and the CDC mentioned that headaches are common with the flu. Headaches can also be common in early pregnancy, as mild but frequent headaches can be a result of your body's increasing blood volume, as noted by Parents.
Muscle and body aches, however, are likely more apt to be flu symptoms. "Since influenza is a virus, women will likely have fever, chills, body aches, coughing, or stuffy or runny nose, which would not be symptoms of pregnancy," Prince tells Romper. The CDC noted that body aches typically go hand-in-hand with the flu and can be severe.
Given those common early symptoms of both flu and pregnancy, it can be hard to tell in the very beginning what is actually going on in your body. But, there are stark differences between the two, as well. "Flu comes with a fever and chills, early pregnancy doesn't," Dr. Daniel Roshan, OB-GYN, tells Romper.
And other signs, like "missing a period, breast tenderness, areola darkening, rashes, and uterine enlargement accompany early signs of pregnancy," but wouldn't be common with the flu, notes Risa Klein, OB-GYN NP, CNM, M.S., to Romper.
"Ultimately if your period is late or missed, a home pregnancy test should be done," says Roshan. And, if you're concerned that you might either be pregnant or have the flu, getting in touch with your doctor is a good idea. More so if you've been actively trying to conceive and aren't sure if you are pregnant. The flu can be particularly risky in pregnant women, and if it's possible that you are pregnant and could have the flu, you should definitely talk to your doctor. With this severe flu season still in full swing, being cautious is smart.
Check out Romper's new video series, Bearing The Motherload, where disagreeing parents from different sides of an issue sit down with a mediator and talk about how to support (and not judge) each other’s parenting perspectives. New episodes air Mondays on Facebook.