Archive for the ‘Cold’ Category

How to Tell the Difference between the Flu and the Common Cold

Tuesday, December 31st, 2013

 Woman with the common coldThe winter holidays are for gathering with family and friends, but sometimes we exchange more than gifts and small talk during the festivities. Cold and flu viruses are usually present in impressive numbers at holiday functions, turning every guest into a potential host–of a viral infection. Sick is sick, and it’s never fun to be sick, but how can you tell the difference between the flu and the common cold when some of the symptoms are similar? We offer the interactive chart below to help you do just that.

Happy, Healthy Holidays!

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Click here to download this chart

InFLUenza: Early 2012 Update and Tips for Staying Healthy

Friday, January 13th, 2012

Flu News:

  • 2011-2012 Flu Season: So Far, So Good
    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) flu prevalence maps indicate flu season is off to a slow start. But don’t be complacent: Flu activity most often peaks during the month of FEBRUARY.

  • Flu Season is Unpredictable
    In the U.S., on average, 5 -20% of the population gets the flu each year, and more than 200,000 people are hospitalized from seasonal flu-related complications. According to CDC, flu seasons are unpredictable and can be severe. Just because you have never had the flu doesn’t mean you won’t get it this year.

  • Flu Risk by Zip Code?
    One study correlated the percentage of children in a given zip code with the risk of ending up in the Emergency Room with the flu. Preventing the spread of flu in children may be an important factor in slowing a flu epidemic. Experts recommend that everyone six months and older should get a flu vaccination each year.

  • Vaccination Statistics
    According to CDC, the best way to prevent seasonal flu is by getting a flu vaccination each year. As of November, 2011, only approximately 36% of Americans age six months and older had obtained a flu vaccination (CDC). Most individuals are vaccinated in doctor’s offices; other popular locations are other healthcare settings, pharmacies and stores, and the workplace.

  • Vaccine Protection
    The 2011-2012 vaccine is a three-component vaccine that protects against each of three main groups of influenza viruses currently circulating in humans. According to CDC, based on a recommendation from the World Health Organization, the Northern Hemisphere’s 2011-2012 seasonal influenza vaccine contains the following three vaccine viruses:

    An A/California/7/2009 (H1N1)-like virus
    An A/Perth/16/2009 (H3N2)-like virus
    A B/Brisbane/60/2008-like virus.

  • A Reason to Practice Flu Prevention
    On average, flu-related complications claim 36,000 lives each year in the US in one study, according to CDC. These rates can range from a low of approximately 3,000 deaths to a high of about 49,000 deaths according to another study. Anyone can get the flu, but some people are at higher risk of developing serious flu-related complications. These include: people 65 years and older; people of any age with certain chronic medical conditions (e.g., asthma, diabetes, or heart disease), pregnant women and young children.

  • Flu or Cold?
    Flu and cold are not the same. Use this interactive chart of symptoms to help you distinguish flu from cold.

Tips for Preventing the Flu:

Avoid crowds if flu is prevalent in your area.

Best to get vaccinated early!

Cover your mouth with a tissue or your elbow when coughing or sneezing.

Disinfect frequently touched surfaces to prevent the spread of germs.

Encourage others to stay home if they have the flu, and you do the same.

Frequently wash hands for 15-20 seconds at a time to help prevent the spread of germs.

A Germ-busting Solution to Disinfect Frequently Touched Surfaces:

  1. Add ¼ cup of chlorine bleach to 1 gallon of cool water.
  2. Mix and apply to frequently touched surfaces.
  3. Leave wet for 10 minutes.
  4. Rinse.

Ralph Morris, MD, MPH, is a Physician and Preventive Medicine and Public Health official living in Bemidji, MN.

Is it the flu or the common cold?

Saturday, November 7th, 2009

Viruses are unwelcomed visitors in many households right now. I am frequently asked how to tell whether a family member is suffering from the flu or just a common cold. Some of the symptoms are similar, but others generally indicate one or the other of these illnesses. To help you evaluate your symptoms, I’ve created this comparison chart.