JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the flu continues to be widespread in 45 states and has caused 24 pediatric deaths.
Triage nurses said a contributing factor is that people don't understand the difference between a common cold and influenza.
Both are respiratory illnesses. However, they are caused by different viruses.
Flu symptoms are more persistent than cold symptoms, according to nurses in Jacksonville.
Patients with a cold are likely to have a runny nose or a sore throat, but flu symptoms are more aggressive and usually include a headache, body aches and fever.
As of last week, the CDC reported the following information on the impact of the flu on people across the nation:
• 10,100,000 – 11,700,000 had symptomatic flu illnesses
• 4,700,000 – 5,600,000 medical visits due to the flu
• 118,000 – 141,000 people hospitalized with flu
Medical Director for the TriageLogic Group and Continuwell Dr. Ravi Raheja said the biggest struggle with beating the flu is the confusion of symptoms with the common cold.
"If you suspect that you have the flu, you shouldn’t run into your doctor's office because you may spread the disease," Raheja said. "The first thing (you should do) is talk with a triage nurse or a health professional that can help you determine over the phone whether you really have a cold or flu."
Flu shots and frequent hand - washing are good ways to protect yourself from contracting influenza.
Click here for more professional advice on getting through cold and flu season.