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Is it a cold or the flu? - KSBY.com | San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Area News

Is it a cold or the flu?

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Both the flu and the common cold are going around, and it’s important to note the differences.

Usually, the flu is worse than a cold and symptoms are more intense. 

Gene Francis was hit hard with the flu about a month ago.

“I had the temperature of, what 102, and terrible stomach aches. I threw up anything I ate, I slept right through Christmas, just felt nauseous. It was awful,” Francis said. “Just all the bad things with the flu happened to me.”

Wednesday morning, the flu was gone, but Francis had been attacked by the common cold.

“I am coughing, terrible sore throat that comes and goes,” he added.

While both the flu and the cold are respiratory illnesses and share similar symptoms, they are caused by different viruses and have different outcomes.

Cold symptoms are usually milder than the flu.

“(A cold) is really in the head, lots of stuffiness, runny nose, sneezing, coughing, that kind of thing,” said Dr. Penny Borenstein, San Luis Obispo County Health Officer.

According to health specialists, a cold generally does not result in serious health problems and can be handled at home with over-the-counter medication.

As for the flu, it can develop into a much more serious disease and the symptoms are more severe.

“Really bad body aches, almost always have fever, sometimes high fever, chills, nausea sometimes. It really feels like you are very sick,” Borenstein said.  

A chart from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists the signs and symptoms to help individuals figure out if what they have is influenza or just a common cold.

Both the flu and cold are transmitted the same way and can often last for weeks.

For either one, you can help to stop the spread by practicing good hygiene and eating well, drinking plenty of fluids and getting enough rest.

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