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Can You Tell Whether You Have The Flu Or A Cold?

5:24 PM, Jan 14, 2014   |    comments
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We're still in the height of flu season and just Monday, we learned the sad news that an infant from the eastern part of North Carolina recently died from the flu. That brings the number of flu deaths in the state this flu season to 22. The majority have been young adults between the ages of 25 and 49 years old.

We all would agree, it's 22 lives too many taken by the flu. But we don't want you to be scared into thinking we have an epidemic. According to 2012 numbers, there are more than 9.7 million people in the state. Statistically, less than one percent of our state's population have died from the flu. In no way do the numbers minimize the deaths. We want you to be informed, we want you to know how to keep the flu away from you and your family.

The key things to remember are:

  • Get your flu shot, if not for you, for those who can't -- like the infant who recently died. The flu shot can't be given to babies younger than six months old.
  • Wash your hands often
  • Disinfect your work space, especially if you share it
  • Avoid close contact with sick people

Lets say you start to feel a tickle in your throat. How do you know if it's the flu or your average cold? Let's take a look at some of the symptoms and see if you can figure it out.

SUDDEN ONSET - Is that a flu symptom? Or a cold symptom? If you said flu, you're right. The flu will come on suddenly and you'll start to feel pretty bad. We're talking chills, muscle ache, exhaustion, stuffy nose, the works. A cold will come on gradually and its symptoms are the usual suspects: sore throat, stuffy nose, and cough.

FEVER - Which illness comes with a fever? That's a trick question because fevers can happen with both a cold and the flu. But if you get a fever with a cold, it'll be mild - if at all. If it's the flu, the fever will be 100 degrees or higher.

DURATION - If it's a cold, it can last a week to 10 days and you might still have the cough for a couple weeks. But the flu can take you out for one to two weeks and the exhaustion lingers.

If you do get the flu, stay home! Don't have contact with people until 24 hours after your fever breaks. And of course, follow any doctor's orders.

WFMY News 2/Consumer Reports/ NC Health Dept.

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