By Dr. Dave Hnida

(CBS4) -The Centers for Disease Control has issued a new report on this year’s flu season. It’s kind of a good news, bad news report— in that this year’s season is, to this point, milder than what we saw last year. Plus, this year’s flu vaccine seems to be a good match at providing protection. On the other hand, there is still a lot of flu out there, and Colorado continues to have a high number of cases.

(credit: CBS)

And to personalize it a step further, the patients that I have seen with influenza are sick — as in run over by a truck sick — and I doubt they would say “mild” would describe this flu season.

Adding to the misery are several other bugs causing people to feel pretty punk, including strep, pneumonia and severe viruses.

So basically, the best thing you can say about the state of health in our state is that if you’re not feeling well, you’re not alone.

But how can you tell whether you have the flu as compared to a cold-type virus?

Kind of an important question since a cold will usually just make you feel lousy for a week or so, while influenza can knock you off your feet, put you in the hospital, or put you at risk of death. And if we catch influenza within a day or two of starting, we may put you on anti-influenza medication to ease a little of the misery.

So the big question: how can you tell the difference between the flu and a common respiratory infection?

Here’s a little chart that might be helpful when it comes to general symptoms.


SYMPTOM                                        COLD                                      FLU

Onset                                                 Gradual                                 Sudden

Fever/Chills                                      Rare                                       Common

Aches                                                 Mild, if any                           Ouch, you hurt

Fatigue                                              A little run-down                Hard to get out of bed

Sneezing                                           Achoo!                                  Sometimes

Sore Throat                                      Common                               Not so much

Cough                                                Mild-Moderate                   Big Time

Headache                                         Rare                                       Almost Always


Here’s the bottom line: if you’re down and really feeling ill, a check in with your health care provider is a good idea.

Point #2: We still have a way to go until the flu season peaks (February) and then is gone (April-ish), so it’s still NOT TOO LATE TO GET A FLU SHOT. You’ll be glad you did. (And so will your family).

Dr. Dave Hnida


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