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Published: Tuesday, January 24, 2012, 12:01 a.m.

How to tell the difference between colds and the flu

Do you have a cold or the flu?
Dr. Susan Rehm, medical director of the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases, says the difference between cold and flu symptoms spell FACTS:
F: The flu commonly results in fever.
A: Muscle aches are more common with the flu.
C: Chills are more common with the flu.
T: Real "I can't get out of bed" tiredness is common with the flu.
S: A cold usually comes on gradually and a flu suddenly.
"About all we can offer for a cold is chicken soup and symptom-relief medications. There are antiviral prescriptions available to treat the flu," Rehm said.
It is not too late to be vaccinated for the current seasonal "high," the doctor said.
Preventive measures include covering the mouth or nose when sneezing or coughing and staying home when you are sick.
"Don't spread the flu by being around others," Rehm said. "Stay out of circulation until a day after the fever is gone."
Despite knowing better, Americans continue social interaction even when they have flu symptoms, she said.
More than four in 10 people would get on a plane for vacation or a business trip even if they thought they were coming down with the flu.
A majority said they would go to school or work, but only 24 percent would go to their grandmother's 80th birthday party .
Story tags » HealthHealth treatment

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