Is it the flu, or just a cold?

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SALT LAKE CITY -- A lot of people are sick and may assume they have the H1N1 virus, but doctors say there are a lot of other viruses and bacterial infections now that can be deadly too. We went to a doctor to find out how to determine what you have and what you should do about it.

"So much talk is talking about the flu, everyone is worried about the flu," says Dr. Brian Shiozawa, ER physician at St. Mark's Hospital."

Shiozawa has had a lot of people come in assuming they have the flu, and they're right! But it's not just viruses going around.

"Strep is a bacterial infection, which we treat with antibiotics. The flu is a virus and that's treated more symptomatically, or with Tamiflu, for example," Shiozawa says.

Strep symptoms include a sore throat, fever and body aches. But it gets tricky to tell the flu from a cold.

"With a cold and flu symptoms, they're fairly similar. People have headache, body aches, fever and chills," Shiozawa says.

There are several notable differences between the cold and flu. For example, with both illnesses you'll cough, but only with a cold will the cough produce mucous. And with a cold, you probably won't get the chills; with a flu you definitely will. [CLICK HERE to see more cold and flu symptoms]

We asked Dr. Shiozawa how to know when you should ride out the illness at home or go to the hospital. He says part of that depends on the person themselves.

But Shiozawa suggests if you have underlying health problems like asthma, diabetes, or if you're pregnant and have flu symptoms, go to a doctor or hospital the same day. If you're healthy, and the illness is minor, it may be more beneficial to stay home and avoid the doctor's office.

"You might get exposed to a disease here you might not otherwise have been exposed to in the community," Shiozawa says.

Another difference between the cold and flu: Cold symptoms will develop over several days; the flu hits you hard and sudden.


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Amanda Butterfield


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