Know The Differences Between Cold And Flu

Reporter: Shannon Samson

New Media Producer: Kerry Corum

An on-line tracking service is reporting high levels of flu activity in the Evansville area. And that makes for plenty of activity at the Vanderburgh County Health Department.

It was day two of the free FluMist Clinic. Monday was much busier than Friday, with a steady stream of people waiting out front throughout most of the day.

With school being out, many parents brought in the kids for their free dose. The spray is only recommended for children over five.

It's doing a lot to ease the minds of worried parents, now that the death toll for children is up to 42 across the country.

Parents should keep in mind that not every cough and sniffle is actually influenza.

Here's how you can tell the difference between a regular cold and the flu. There are lots of illnesses out there, but not all are influenza.

Family Physician John Honnigford, MD says, "If you were to take the flu, influenza out of the flu season, we would still have a flu season. This is winter time. It's cold. There's a whole lot of respiratory illnesses that are going around right now. The flu is just a member of that gang and it's a big player."

If you have a cold, you probably have a runny nose, a sore throat and a sneeze a lot.

The flu also infects the nose, throat and lungs, but usually is more sudden and severe. You get a high fever, headache, muscle aches and extreme fatigue.

In days one through four, you may also experience chills and a dry cough, in addition to the other symptoms. This is also when you're highly contagious.

By the second or third day, the fever should go down, but the other symptoms will persist for days.

By about day ten, the cough should begin to subside. Usually complete recovery comes after two weeks.

If not, Dr. Honnigford says, "If you have a fever that you can't break with Tylenol or Motrin. If you have body aches or chills that are unshakable, especially if you have very strong, what we call rigor, which is a big shaking chill. Those are really ominous symptoms, or if you have unusual symptoms such as rashes that aren't explained or tingling, numbness in your fingers, other neurological symptoms, these are worrisome signs and you should go see your doctor."

Those are signs of secondary infections. And these illnesses on top of the flu, are particularly deadly, especially for the very young and the very old.