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HEALTH WATCH: Cold or flu?
Several flu deaths in our area have drawn attention to how dangerous the virus can be.
But if you have symptoms like a cough or fever, how do you know if it's the flu or just a common cold?
This time of year, here at the emergency department at Sacred Heart Hospital on the Emerald Coast, they get a lot of people coming in, miserable with their symptoms. They're wondering "Do I have a bad cold, or is it something even worse?"
The Centers for Disease Control say the flu comes on suddenly, with symptoms like fatigue and body aches.
"The flu makes you ache to your bones, and that's not an exaggeration. Your teeth ache, usually with the flu you get a severe headache," said Dr. Gary Pablo.
"The worst part is just literally feeling like you want to claw your skin off. Your skin is just crawling and it aches and it hurts," said Jessica Davis.
When Jessica Davis had the flu, she also had a high fever, though that's not always the case. She says the virus was like nothing she ever experienced.
"Not being able to breathe, being highly congeested and the coughing, I actually think I'd rather go through childbirth again," Jessica said.
"They come in here and they want you to do something, do something, I feel like I'm dying and that's not an exaggeration. Sometimes people really have the feeling that they're dying," Pablo said.
Dr. Gary Pablo says if people get treatment within 48 hours, there are drugs that lessen the symptoms somewhat. If it's been longer, there's not much an ER can do except confirm your diagnosis.
"I had it once in my adult life, and I just didn't think it was any big deal, until you get it. And then you realize very quickly that you never want to have this ever again," Jessica said.
Davis and her family get flu shots every year now, early on, so the vaccine has time to boost their immunity.
Dr. Pablo says he had the flu once too, and it was so bad he's taken the shot ever since.
"Don't worry, trust me...If you get the flu, you'll know it," Pablo said.
Whether you have a cold or the flu, Dr. Pablo says if you're having any trouble breathing, you should definitely get checked out.