Flu season hit earlier and harder in North Carolina, than in recent years past, and it’s no secret - the virus could knock you out in a big way.

But what symptoms trigger you to think you actually have the flu? One report out of Florida, claims a headache is the one symptom you shouldn't ignore.

Something really important to keep in mind here - all patients are different, and symptoms could mean a variety of things. We went to Cone Health to talk with an Emergency Room doctor Courteney Mackuen to VERIFY what symptoms you should be looking out for.

Right away, we asked her about the claim that headaches shouldn't be ignored.

“It’s hard hanging your hat on any one symptom,” said Dr. Mackuen, “That is why we encourage people to go to their primary care provider, and I can say that headache certainly can be dangerous, but I can't say that every headache is dangerous.”

While we can verify that a headache is a flu symptom, we can't positively say it's a symptom you shouldn't ignore. Dr. Mackuen says you need to look at the bigger picture. There are other symptoms you could feel -- and you can't ignore those signs if you're feeling several of them.

"I will say that this season we are seeing a lot of things like body aches, high fevers, we are seeing some respiratory symptoms such as cough and sore throat, and a little bit of nausea too,” she said, “They’re different symptoms but when you put them altogether it's likely we could say it's the flu.”

Again, a headache alone is no reason to automatically assume it's the flu. But, she says all patients are different and if you have concerns - ask your primary care physician.

Dr. Mackuen says there's only so much they can do in the emergency room, but you should go to the hospital if you feel these two symptoms – especially if you already know you’ve got the flu.

“If you have really bad shortness of breath, not being able to catch your breath at all. Or if you're not able to keep yourself hydrated,” she said, “If you're not able to because you're nauseous, you're vomiting or your fever's so high, I would say that you should come back to the emergency department - you might need some fluids in order to get by.”

It's likely the flu virus will stick around until mid to late spring, so the doctors biggest recommendation is still flu prevention. They're still pushing that flu shot, and the big one - hand hygiene: washing often & using hand sanitizer.