Thursday, October 29, 2009

Cold vs. Flu

As a library, we are a center for providing our patrons with accurate information. We felt the need to write a blog about H1N1, seasonal flu and colds to try to debunk some of the myths, misinformation, hype and panic-inducing emails that are out there. The following information was gathered from reputable sources and there are links to the referenced information throughout the blog. Please feel free to leave any comments you may have. Thank you.

Know the Difference between Cold and H1N1 Flu Symptoms(printable PDF)

H1N1 Flu (Swine Flu)
Fever is rare with a cold.
Fever is usually present with the flu in up to 80% of all flu cases. A temperature of 100°F or higher for 3 to 4 days is associated with the flu.

A hacking, mucus producing cough is often present with a cold.
A non-mucus producing cough (dry cough) is usually present with the flu.
Slight body aches and pains can be part of a cold.
Severe aches and pains are common with the flu.

Stuffy nose is commonly present with a cold and typically resolves spontaneously within a week.
Stuffy nose is not commonly present with the flu.
Chills are uncommon with a cold.
60% of people who have the flu experience chills.
Tiredness is fairly mild with a cold.
Tiredness is moderate to severe with the flu.
Sneezing is commonly present with a cold.
Sneezing is not common with the flu.

Cold symptoms tend to develop over a few days.
The flu has a rapid onset within 3-6 hours. The flu hits hard and includes sudden symptoms like high fever, aches and pains.
A headache is fairly uncommon with a cold.
A headache is very common with the flu, present in 80% of flu cases.

Sore throat is commonly present with a cold.
Sore throat is not commonly present with the flu.

Chest discomfort is mild to moderate with a cold.
Chest discomfort is often severe with the flu.
~ Information provided courtesy of the Alliance Library System (ALS).

The only way to stop the spread of the epidemic is to spread the awareness.

Rear Admiral Anne Schuchat of the Center for Disease Control (CDC) was on "The Dr.s" television show, October 26, 2009. She said that one of the biggest warning signs that you need to speak about with a physician is when a person is sick with flulike symptoms, gets better, then gets sick again. They could have pneumonia following the flu and that is what seems to be causing the most complications. Furthermore, she discussed the effectiveness and safety of the H1N1 vaccine. According to Schuchat, the vaccine is just as safe and effective as the annual flu vaccine. She also added that if we'd have known about the H1N1 strain sooner it would have been incorporated into the current seasonal flu vaccine and there would not have been all the misinformation floating around about it.

Pregnant Mothers:
It is very important for pregnant women to get the H1N1 and Seasonal Flu vaccines. During pregnancy a mother's immune system is weakened so the body doesn't reject the fetus, plus the body is under added stress working to support two lives. According to the CDC, the H1N1 and seasonal flu vaccines are safe for pregnant mothers and their unborn babies.

Breastfeeding While Sick:
According to the CDC's website, it is ok to give your baby breast milk while you are sick. The antibodies your body is producing to fight illness are passed on to your baby. It is recommended that you express your milk and have someone who is not sick do the actual feeding. If you cannot do this, you should put a blanket over your arm (which you have been told to cough/sneeze into) and wash your hands thoroughly or use an alcohol based hand rub before each feeding. Also, try not to cough or sneeze into the babies face.

Since this is a new virus, we don't know yet about specific protection against it. Mothers pass on protective antibodies to their baby during breastfeeding.  Antibodies are a type of protein made by the immune system in the body.  Antibodies help fight off infection.

Where to find the FACTS!
There are so many panic inducing emails and forwards flying around. Ignore all the "he said he heard she read" and go directly to the facts!

What should you know about flu antiviral drugs? At this time there are no studies suggesting harm to pregnant women or their unborn babies if she takes antiviral medicines.