Influenza B Symptoms – Are They Truly Less Severe than Influenza A?

Influenza, or commonly known as the flu, is a common respiratory infection. The infection is caused by flu viruses, and there are three types of influenza: A, B, and C.

The first two are similar, but influenza B is different in a way it can pass only from human to human. The influenza B symptoms are also similar to the other types of viruses [1]

So, how do you know which virus has affected you? Well, it is all about understanding the three different types of influenza viruses, and recognizing their symptoms.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, both types A and B can be equally severe. Previously, it was thought that influenza type B is a mild disease [2]

One of the most common indicators of influenza, be it influenza B symptoms or other types is fever higher than 100F. Influenza is a highly contagious disease, and in serious cases, can cause life-threatening complications.

Types of influenza viruses

As mentioned previously, there are three types of influenza B viruses. Type A and B are the ones that cause the annual influenza epidemics that can affect up to 20% of the population in the United States on a yearly basis.

These types of viruses are the reason we sniff, cough, and have high fever [3] Type C can also cause flu, but the symptoms are much less severe.

Type A

Type A flu virus, or influenza type A is capable of infecting animals, but it is more common for people to suffer the ailments associated with this type of flu. Remember swine flu and bird flu[4][5]

Those were influenza type A viruses. Wild birds commonly act as the hosts for flu virus.

The challenge with influenza type A is that it is constantly changing and is responsible for large flu epidemics. The influenza A2, for example, can be spread by people who are already infected. The most common flu spots are the surfaces that an infected person has touched.

Type B

Unlike Type A influenza, type B is found only in humans. While the reaction is less severe than type A, the symptoms can still be harmful [6] The influenza B virus is not classified by subtype, and it does not cause pandemics.

Type C

Influenza type C is also found only in people. The difference is the symptoms are less severe, and usually very mild. Compared to type A and B, type C symptoms are very mild.

People do not even generally become very ill from influenza type C.

Do different types hit the population each year?

Strains of the flu virus mutate over time and replace older strains of the virus. This is why the CDC recommends you take a flu shot each year to ensure your body develops immunity to the most recent strains of the flu virus.

Two weeks after getting a flu shot or vaccine, antibodies that provide protection develop in your body [7]

Influenza B Symptoms

If you detect the symptoms early on, you can prevent the virus from worsening and seriously harming your body. Early detection, as in many other health conditions, is the key to success [8]

Otherwise, the influenza virus can worsen, and even prevent you from performing daily activities.

The common symptoms of influenza B include:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Coughing
  • Sore throat
  • Runny nose
  • Sneezing
  • Fatigue
  • Body aches
  • Muscle aches

Respiratory symptoms

In addition to the common symptoms, you will also experience some specific respiratory symptoms. If you have asthma, the respiratory infection can worsen your symptoms.

The respiratory symptoms include:

  • Congestion
  • Sore throat
  • Coughing
  • Runny nose

However, if left untreated, asthma in combination with influenza B can cause complications like:

  • Pneumonia
  • Respiratory failure
  • Bronchitis
  • Kidney failure
  • Heart inflammation

Body symptoms

The best signal for flu is having fever that is higher than 100F. If your fever does not subside within a few days, you should seek immediate medical attention.

The other body symptoms include:

  • Chills
  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Abdominal pain
  • Body aches

Stomach symptoms

In some rare cases, influenza type B can cause stomach symptoms like diarrhea and pain. These symptoms are more common in children, and they should not be mistaken for a stomach bug.

Children with influenza type B virus can experience:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of appetite

How to treat it?

If you think the reason for your common cold and fever is influenza B, start by drinking plenty of fluids [9] The main treatment tip is to prevent dehydration and allow yourself plenty of sleep. This will allow your body to rest, recharge, and fight against the virus.

In some cases, influenza B symptoms can improve on their own, if you give your body a chance.

In some cases, a physician will prescribe antiviral medications and painkillers to shorten the duration of the virus. This will also prevent further complications.

If you want more natural way of treating the flu, look for some home remedies. This include honey, lemon, garlic, and other foods with naturally antimicrobial and antiviral properties.

For children that have a flu, it is better to seek medical treatment before resorting to home treatment.

It is worth noting that type B influenza will result in more severe symptoms than the common cold. In some cases, the infection resolves on its own, but other cases require medical attention.

If your symptoms do not improve after a few days, seek medical attention nevertheless.

Flu complications

Most people will recover in a few days, or less than two weeks. However, sometimes, people may develop complications, including pneumonia as a result of the flu.

Sinus and ear infections are most common example of moderate complications from flu. Pneumonia, on the other hand, is a serious flu complication.

Emergency warning signs


If you notice any of the following symptoms and signs, you should seek medical attention for your child immediately.

  • Fast breathing
  • Trouble breathing
  • Bluish skin color
  • Not waking up
  • Being so irritable that the child does not want to be held
  • Fever with a rash


Same as with children, there are emergency warning signs that require fast and immediate medical attention.

  • Confusion
  • Sudden dizziness
  • Pain or pressure in the chest
  • Shortness of breath
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Severe or persistent vomiting

Should you stay at home if you are sick?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that you stay at home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone. The only exceptions are to get medical care other necessities.

The fever will be gone in most cases without using a fever-reducing medicine. Until the fever is gone, stay home from work, school, shopping, social events, and public gatherings

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also recommends that children and teenagers under 18 years old should not be given Aspirin or any other salicylate-containing product. These can cause rare and serious complication called Reye’s syndrome.

What to do if you are sick?

The best thing to do is stay away from others as much as possible. This will prevent you from spreading the infection. If you have to leave home, wear a facemask.

Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue. And make sure to wash your hands often to keep them from spreading the flu.


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