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Differences between the common cold and influenza
We are right in the middle of cold and flu season. And this time of the year, a lot of people get their symptoms mixed up. So, do you have the flu, or a common cold?
News 5's Ginger ten Bensel sorts out the symptoms in this special edition of What's Going Around.
There are a number of illnesses going around, but tonight we're shifting our focus and looking at the differences between the common cold and influenza.
Fortunately, state health officials say that Nebraska is experiencing one of the mildest flu seasons in years. But it's not over yet, nationwide it's starting late. It's the latest in three decades.
That's evident here in Central Nebraska.
Dr. Michael Hanich with the Kearney Clinic says that he has not seen any flu cases this season but it's important to know a few facts about the flu.
There are two different strains of influenza: Type A and Type B influenza.
Influenza is an upper respiratory infection.
Dr. Hanich says that as soon as the virus mutates a vaccine can be developed for it. It has an 88 year life cycle. It goes through all of it's mutations in those 88 years, so technically if influenza goes through you should have already been exposed to it and you should not catch it.
Influenza can get down into the lungs and cause pneumonia.
As people get older they lose some of their ability to clear infections and it's much more dangerous.
Anyone over the age of 65 or someone with a chronic illness should get a pneumonia shot or a booster if it's been more than five years.
Plus Dr. Hanich says it's important to get a flu shot as well.
Flu season lasts from January through March and the best time for a flu shot is before the season or early into the flu season.
There is no vaccine for the common cold. Even though, the common cold is also an upper respiratory infection. It's usually the rhino virus, the coxsackie virus or the echo virus. They cause similar symptoms.
Most of the time the common cold will last two to three days. You can have a runny nose with not many body aches and a minimal fever.
With influenza, a person will have a lot more body aches and a fever is more common. The body aches get into the muscle called myalgia. With the flu you'll also have a runny nose and cough. But, again, there is a shot to prevent influenza.
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