Common cold or H1N1? Knowing the differences

By Sara Story - bio | email
Posted by Ellen Krafve - bio | email

TYLER, TX (KLTV) - H1N1 continues to show its presence in East Texas. Trinity Valley Community College in Athens says it has three students who have tested positive for the virus. As fall quickly approaches, doctors say H1N1 won't be alone. They say the common cold and seasonal flu will follow cold weather. And, as the time for seasonal flu and common cold ticks closer, doctors say symptoms for those two and the H1N1 virus are strikingly similar.

Dr. Jeffrey Levin with the UT Health Science Center says though these similar symptoms make knowing what you are dealing with difficult, there is a way to tell if your sniffles are cause for concern.

He says if you have a stuffy nose, congestion, some body aches and a growing cough, chances are, you have the common cold. And, while deciphering cold from flu may not be too tricky, in general, fever is really a hallmark of influenza.

Diagnosing H1N1 from seasonal flu is harder because symptoms are the same. They are: fever, more painful body aches, dry cough, diarrhea and severe fatigue.

"You almost have to decide what you are dealing with largely based on what is going on in the community that you are in," said Levin.

And, he says since it isn't the season for the flu just yet. Doctors assume patients with those symptoms have the H1N1 virus.

"Typically, we see the peak in seasonal flu coming December, January time frame," said Levin.

Pharmacists say you can't completely block getting sick. But, you can drink lots of fluids and take vitamins like vitamin C to help boost your immune system and stay healthy. They also say if you do catch the cold or flu, treat the symptoms.

"The biggest thing you can do is support - system support," said Jeffrey Abeldt, with Brickstreet Pharmacy. "Get the fever down. Take ibuprofen and Tylenol."

If that doesn't do the trick, medical experts say see your doctor. Doctors say the seasonal flu shot is available right now. It is important to get this, along with the H1N1 vaccine which is set to come out in mid-October.

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