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KNOW THE DIFFERENCE: the flu versus a cold

If you know the difference between the flu and a cold, it could save you a trip to the doctor this flu season.

Posted: Sep 27, 2019 6:11 PM

ROGUE VALLEY, Ore. -- Flu season will start picking up soon. It usually peaks between October and February. Newswatch12's Cassidy Delamarter is digging into what you need to know to keep your family healthy.

Knowing the difference between the flu and a cold could save you a trip to the doctor's offiice this flu season. 

Dan Weiner, the Rogue Community Health Chief Medical Officer, broke down the differences between the two for Newswatch12, "A cold, also a virus, usually starts slowly."

Weiner said you might have a stuffy nose, a cough or a sore throat with a cold, but you won't have body aches or a high fever. That's one difference you can look for to determine what you're coming down with.

Doctors report a lot of people think the flu is just a bad cold. However, from the start, the flu will show different symptoms.

"It comes on very rapidly, you feel great that morning and that afternoon you feel like you were hit by a bus," Weiner said. "You will have bad muscle aches and a high fever."

With the flu, you can also have similar symptoms to a cold, like a cough. The sudden onset and the severity of the symptoms is the giveaway that it's the flu instead of a cold. 

Kjerstin Dean is a mother of two, four-year-old Nathaniel and two-year-old Naomi. 

She said, "Keeping up with him when he's well is hard enough, but when he's not feeling well it just takes a toll. Trying to keep them safe and healthy all the time is a constant battle."

So for her it was a no-brainer. She just scheduled their doctor appointments for flu shots this week.

"Any public area is a landmine of germs and bacteria, so we have to be cautious on what our kids handle and how the places are being upkept," she explained. 

Doctors say the flu shot is important for people of all ages.

Brett Summers, pharmacist and the owner of Lone Pine Drug, gives out flu shots and said, "We try to make it as easy and painless as possible. Any protection that could shorten the duration of the flu itself can make a big difference in people's lives."

William Fuller got the flu shot for the first time in years. He told NewsWatch12 the last time he had the flu he ended up missing a week of work. 

"It took less than five minutes, quick and easy so course I would recommend it because it's a good precaution and it's going to help you in the long run," Fuller said. 

Statistics reveal the most effective way to prevent getting the flu is with the shot. If you do find yourself coming down with the flu, call your doctor in the first 24 to 48 hours.

Weiner said, "If you get symptoms and you contact your doctor quickly, there are medications that can shorten the severity and duration of influenza."

More than 40 million people got the flu last year. 500,000 were hospitalized and 50,000 died.

Dean said, "I'd rather have the preventive care done than risking my children getting the flu and ending up in the hospital because they can't breathe."

The CDC recommends that you get your shot before the end of October because it takes about two weeks for the shot to become fully effective in your system. Here is a list of areas in the Rogue Valley offering flu shots

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