The United States is in the middle of a flu epidemic. The flu can be especially dangerous for children and seniors. Here are some tips for distinguishing the difference between the cold and the flu.
Cold symptoms include a sore throat, cough, runny nose and congestion. Adults don’t usually have a fever with a cold, but children often do. Cold symptoms usually last about a week.
Flu symptoms are usually more severe than cold symptoms. One tell tale sign is how fast symptoms come on. In the morning you can feel fine, but by the end of the day you are completely wiped out. Other flu symptoms include sore throat, fever, headache, muscle aches, joint soreness and congestion. Swine flu is associated with vomiting and diarrhea. The flu can make you feel run down for a week or longer.
If you haven’t gotten your flu shot yet, get one. The shot is at least 62% effective in fighting this year’s strong flu. You can get a flu shot at your doctor’s office or drugstores such as CVS and Walgreens.
The flu season usually peaks in February or March. The flu season started early with a dominant H3N2 strain, which was last seen a decade ago.
Remember, the best way to avoid getting the flu or a cold is to wash your hands often in warm, soapy water. If you can’t get to the sink, use alcohol-based hand sanitizer. And if you have to sneeze, be polite: sneeze into your elbow. That prevents the spread of germs to others. And if you think you’re getting sick, stay home.