Influenza, or the flu, can be a serious illness, especially in the young, old and those with compromised immune systems. A runny nose can seem like the least of your worries; yet, a runny nose can be the first sign that you're ill.
The flu is a viral infection that attacks your respiratory system, which includes your nose, throat and lungs. Often, your first symptoms are a runny nose, lots of sneezing and maybe a sore throat. But the difference is that with a minor cold, these symptoms will develop slowly over a few days and never amount to much more. With influenza, these symptoms will generally start abruptly and quickly escalate to include a high fever, headache, muscle soreness, fatigue and weakness.
As with most viral infections, influenza has to run its course. But you may be able to make yourself more comfortable through some over-the-counter fever reducers. Your doctor may also prescribe an antiviral medication that may shorten the illness by a day or two.