H-CENTRAL COAST

Jan 31, 2013 9:35 PM by Keli Moore, KSBY News

Got the sniffles? How to tell if it's the flu, cold or allergies

Is it the flu, cold or just allergies?

Technically the only way to know for sure is to get a medical test, but if you have influenza, not just what everyone calls the flu, health officials said Thursday you will know, because it will knock you out.

"You will feel sick and look sick. A lot of people say I feel like I got run over by a truck," said Cesilia Lomeli, a nurse practitioner at Community Health Centers for the Central Coast.

With the common head cold you usually don't have a fever, get the chills and have pains and aches.

"Most people can work through a cold. It's more irritating than anything else. The flu will put you in bed from five to seven days," said Alan Martin, a pharmacist in San Luis Obispo.

As for allergies, health officials said if you have a history of a runny nose and itchy eyes then that's most likely what you've got. Allergies are common on the Central Coast because of the temperate climate.

Doctors said the key to not getting sick is prevention. One way is by taking vitamins to support the immune system like folic acid, vitamin E and C, and Zinc.

So what should we take if we are really sick?

"For a cold you take supportive measures," said Lomeli. "Like cough medicine or something homeopathic like drinking peppermint tea. For the flu, take things for your muscles like ibuprofen. Things that will help you not have the aches," said Lomeli.

For allergies treatments range, but pharmacists said over the counter antihistamines like Claritin or Allegra should work.

For most the flu is what they worry about this time of year.

"We are hoping that people are getting their flu vaccines," said Lomeli.

Community Health Centers will be offering free flu shots Friday in Cambria.

Click here for information on free flu shots.

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