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How to spot flu symptoms

During this fierce and deadly flu season, it's important to recognize the symptoms that will tell you whether you hav...

Posted: Jan 31, 2018 11:47 AM
Updated: Jan 31, 2018 11:47 AM

During this fierce and deadly flu season, it's important to recognize the symptoms that will tell you whether you have the nasty infection -- or just a common cold.

People with the flu often experience fever, chills, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches and/or fatigue, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Some -- more commonly children -- may also have vomiting and/or diarrhea.

There are ways to tell the difference between flu symptoms and those typical of a cold

Prevention is key, especially for groups that may be particularly susceptible

Especially in the winter months, it's easy to mix up cold and flu symptoms.

Flu or cold?

According to Dr. Rachael Lee, assistant professor in the University of Alabama-Birmingham's Division of Infectious Diseases, there are certain ways to tell the difference. "Colds are typically around your nose and face, and you have a sore throat," she said.

"Your symptoms are more gradual in onset, and you may have a low-grade fever but not high fevers. It can also cause cough but does not have shortness of breath."

As for the flu, "it is pretty much all of a sudden: You will have fevers, body aches, sore throat, coughs, and then you can have other symptoms as well, such as shortness of breath. You can feel dehydrated, meaning you may be dizzy, and you may be a little bit confused."

Extra precautions

Those who are at higher risk for developing flu-related complications should take extra precautions when they feel symptoms coming on.

The CDC says these include children under 5 years old, particularly those under 2. Also at high risk are adults 65 and older, pregnant women, residents of long-term care facilities and people with medical conditions including weakened immune systems, asthma, heart disease and diabetes.

Individuals with minor flu or flu-like symptoms should refrain from going to the emergency room and instead call their primary health care providers, to avoid overstressing community resources.

Be prepared to wait

"For all patients, first and foremost, you should call your health care provider, because you may be able to get (the antiviral medication) Tamiflu, and the earlier you get Tamiflu, the more likely your symptoms will go away faster," Lee said. "Do not wait with your symptoms. It is OK to bug us, as health care providers, because we are here to help."

Those who do need to visit an emergency department, however, should be prepared for a long wait time.

"You should seek care in the emergency department when you are feeling dehydrated, you are not keeping any fluids down, as well as if you are feeling really short of breath and cannot catch your air," Lee said.

Dr. Bernard Camins, also an associate professor in the Division of Infectious Diseases, said flu prevention should be the focus for the public.

Prevention key to protection

The most important thing is prevention: avoiding anyone who is sick, if possible, Camins said.

"This includes avoiding public areas where they could get infected, staying away from family or friends who may be sick and not allowing sick individuals into their homes. They also need to practice proactive and frequent hand hygiene. Prevention is the key."

To protect yourself and your loved ones from getting the flu in the first place, the University of Alabama-Birmingham suggests that you get the flu vaccine if you are 6 months or older, cover your coughs and sneezes, and wash your hands frequently.

You should also clean your living and work areas, avoid crowds where possible, stay home from work or school if you are sick and avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.

According to Lee, the vast majority of people who "get rest and drink fluids and take Tamiflu ... will get over your symptoms pretty quickly."

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 66646

Reported Deaths: 1874
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds5599118
DeSoto363230
Harrison249836
Madison241464
Rankin227633
Jackson226942
Jones188558
Forrest177856
Washington164641
Lee142839
Lauderdale140792
Neshoba128592
Lamar120214
Oktibbeha111838
Bolivar110834
Warren108932
Lowndes107437
Panola105412
Sunflower102425
Scott99820
Lafayette96416
Copiah95028
Pike92836
Leflore92562
Holmes89048
Grenada84321
Yazoo82912
Pontotoc8218
Lincoln80941
Simpson79530
Leake78625
Monroe77853
Wayne76421
Coahoma74312
Tate72028
Marshall6889
Marion65720
Union62716
Winston62016
Adams61725
Covington61213
George5595
Newton54211
Pearl River54038
Tallahatchie53010
Attala52125
Walthall49819
Chickasaw45920
Noxubee45311
Alcorn4195
Calhoun4179
Prentiss41710
Tishomingo4095
Claiborne40413
Smith40413
Clay39413
Hancock38814
Jasper3879
Tippah36013
Itawamba35810
Tunica3337
Clarke32625
Montgomery3213
Lawrence3197
Yalobusha31310
Humphreys29111
Quitman2621
Carroll26111
Greene24111
Kemper23214
Perry2327
Jefferson Davis2316
Amite2306
Webster22812
Wilkinson20513
Sharkey1975
Jefferson1957
Stone1944
Benton1431
Choctaw1334
Franklin1242
Issaquena261
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 94827

Reported Deaths: 1674
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson12969243
Mobile9836206
Montgomery6609148
Madison531433
Tuscaloosa419073
Unassigned356061
Baldwin350224
Shelby326035
Marshall313035
Lee266045
Morgan236918
Etowah210431
DeKalb179813
Calhoun176113
Elmore171538
Walker152064
Houston138612
Russell13582
St. Clair132817
Dallas131823
Limestone131813
Franklin127020
Cullman122012
Colbert117113
Lauderdale115717
Autauga108621
Escambia107516
Talladega100913
Jackson9684
Tallapoosa85479
Chambers84038
Dale82723
Blount7884
Chilton7886
Butler75836
Coffee7566
Covington73420
Pike7037
Clarke6629
Barbour5735
Lowndes57124
Marion57024
Marengo55315
Hale47326
Bullock46311
Winston45011
Perry4404
Bibb4265
Wilcox42610
Monroe4194
Randolph39610
Pickens3929
Conecuh38810
Washington38612
Sumter36018
Lawrence3481
Macon33414
Crenshaw3143
Choctaw28112
Cherokee2707
Henry2593
Geneva2570
Clay2525
Greene25011
Lamar2202
Fayette2045
Cleburne1261
Coosa1012
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