Make your home page

Do you have the flu or a cold? Medical professionals explain the difference

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — It’s that time of year where people are not only catching the flu but other nasty viruses and colds.  And sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference to know when maybe you need to go to the doctor.     

The change of season brings more than just cold temperatures. It ushers in sniffs, sneezes, aches and fevers. The question: is it a cold? Or is it the flu? They very much mimic each other.    

The difference is the severity. For both, symptoms are achiness, the chills, coughing, runny noses and fevers. For the flu those symptoms kick into high gear. 

“When you start getting in the high fevers, the more pronounced cough, congestion, aches and body pain, that’s probably flu,” said Mary Kay Foster, the special pathogens program manager at IU Health. 

To truly know you’ve got to take the trip to the doctor.         

“It takes a physician to really diagnose this. it’s really easy. it’s a nasal swab. and they can get the results back in a matter of minutes,” she said.     

With germs flying around doctors say get the flu shot. Beyond that it’s about smart, sanitary habits to avoid the flu, the cold or any other virus. 

“There are basic things you can do,” said Foster. “Cover your cough, coughing into your elbow like that, using the hand sanitizers they’re very easy stuff them in your pocket.”