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January 15, 2013 > Cold vs Flu

Cold vs Flu

Submitted By Stacey Hilton

Across the country and right in our area, folks are kicking off the New Year in bed - flat on their backs. We've been hit with a two punch - a vicious strain of the flu AND NOW, an increase in respiratory illnesses (such as RSV, sinus infections, ear infections, the common cold and bronchitis). Urgent care facilities like Doctors Express have been slammed with patients suffering from the flu or a respiratory illness. And in many cases people can't tell the difference.

"Even if people just have a cold, they will come in to see us because they fear it might be the flu. This is the most active start to a flu season in more than a decade and patients are starting to become more proactive because of it," says Dr. Scott Burger, co-founder and Chief Medical Officer of Doctors Express. Patients can see our physicians during extended hours and on weekends which is providing critical relief for patients this flu season."

Cold vs. the Flu:
Fever, runny nose, fatigue, headache, and muscle aches are symptoms SHARED by both the cold and flu. Here are some ways to help you tell the difference:

The Cold
*Symptoms tend to develop gradually
Runny, stuffy nose
Scratchy throat
Sneezing
Watery Eyes
Mild fever (below 102 F)


The Flu
*Symptoms can appear suddenly, without warning
Nausea
Cough without phlegm
Chills/Body aches
Sweating
Fever (above 102 F) - *But not everyone with the flu will develop a fever
Lack of appetite
Vomiting (more common in kids)
Diarrhea (more common in kids)

The number of states reporting flu-like activity is on the rise. In December, 41 states reported widespread flu activity; and health officials say the flu spreads easier in the dry, winter air.

"It's important for people to remember that viruses can live on non-porous surfaces (such as plastic and stainless steel) for up to 48 hours. And researchers say the average adult touches about 30 objects each minute," says Dr. Burger. "That means all those high traffic areas in our homes and offices are harboring viruses that can make us sick. That's why the two most important steps you can take to help prevent getting the flu are to wash or sanitize your hands (especially before you touch your mouth or eyes) AND to get the flu vaccination."

Research shows influenza virus frequently detected on these surfaces:
Refrigerator handles
Phones (yes, including that cell phone you carry around everywhere)
TV remotes
Microwave ovens and other kitchen surfaces
Door handles and light switches

Sources: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, flu.gov (Department of Health and Human Services), everydayHealth, 2007 study at the University of Arizona

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