Who should get a flu shot?Cold or flu? Here’s a synopsis of the similarities and differences. Dr. Tina Marcantel is a naturopathic physician in Gilbert, Arizona, who also serves the East Valley cities of Mesa, Tempe, Scottsdale, Queen Creek, Apache Junction, Chandler, and the greater Phoenix area.

In case you missed it, there was a helpful article on FLU VS. COLD in the January 11, 2013 issue of the The Arizona Republic. Here’s how they summarized it:

“The common cold and flu are caused by different viruses but can have some similar symptoms, making them tough to tell apart. In general, the flu is worse and symptoms are more intense.

FLU: Symptoms develop rapidly and are generally more intense. They include fever and chills, headache, moderate to severe body aches and tiredness…Symptoms can come on rapidly, within three to six hours. Coughs are dry and unproductive, and sore throats are less common.

COLDS: Usually, symptoms include stuffy or runny nose, sore throat and sneezing…Coughs are hacking and productive. It’s unusual to have fever, chills, headaches and body aches, and if they do occur, they are mild.”

People with colds or mild cases of the flu should get plenty of rest and fluids. Those with severe symptoms, such as difficulty with breathing, should see a doctor and may be prescribed antiviral drugs or other medications.

Common-sense precautions like washing hands frequently with warm water and soap and not sharing utensils or drinking cups can help you avoid colds and flu. You may also choose to get a flu vaccination if you feel you are in a high-risk category for flu. The best way to avoid colds and flu, though, is to make sure you have a strong immune system. For lots of good tips on that subject and for ways to reduce the severity and length of symptoms, see Dr. Marcantel’s article, Avoid Colds and Flu with a Stronger Immune System.

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