Flu season is here, and half the fun of getting sick is calling out from work and imagining how sad everybody would be at your funeral if you died. The fun stops, however, when those “flu-like symptoms” turn out to be just that—flu-like, rather than influenza itself. You see, it isn’t really the virus that’s causing all of the symptoms of “the flu,” but your own immune system going bananas in an effort to kill it. Unfortunately, your immune system goes bananas in almost the same way regardless of what’s trying to kill you, so quite a few life-threatening illnesses can easily pass through an acute phase (when they might still be treatable) and be written off as a touch of the flu.
So, this flu season, in a continuing effort to turn you into a paranoid basket case who’s afraid to go outdoors, here are five diseases that feel just like the flu, but that will totally kill you if you ignore them.
Oh yeah, AIDS is the first one on the list. HIV infection usually passes through an acute phase shortly after exposure and produces noticeable symptoms. Here’s a fun experiment—compare this list of flu symptoms with another list of symptoms that signal the onset of HIV infection. One of them is taken verbatim from flu.gov, and the other is from aids.gov. See if you can tell the difference:
- A 100-degree or higher fever
- A cough and/or sore throat
- A runny or stuffy nose
- Headaches and/or body aches
- Nausea, vomiting, and/or diarrhea
- Swollen glands
- Sore throat
- Muscle and joint aches and pains
There. That clears things up marvelously. If you develop any of these symptoms, you should either stay home, drink plenty of fluids, and eat chicken soup, or you should rush to the clinic and ask for prophylactic doses of the cocktail in an effort to kill off the virus before it progresses to full-blown AIDS. Glad we could help with that.