Doctors’ offices and health clinics across Iowa were flooded over the weekend with people who fear they’ve caught the flu — but the experts say many of them were wasting their time. Dr. Randal Cardott, medical director of the Genesis FirstMed Clinics in Davenport, Bettendorf and DeWitt, says people are confusing their cold symptoms with the flu. Dr. Cardott says the flu is not characterized by nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, it’s a respiratory pathogen, with high fever, chills, cough, runny nose, a sore throat and body aches. Cardott says everyone’s symptoms are a little different, but a cold is not just a light case of the flu — the flu’s a different bug entirely. A cold is more minor in its symptoms in that people feel they can still function, whereas flu victims just want to go to bed due to fatigue. The flu is like a cold, ten times over. He says a cold usually starts with a runny nose and sneezing. Often you will have a sore throat followed by a nonproductive cough. What sets a cold apart from other viral infections is the lack of a high fever. In either case, Cardott says he can’t do much for people who are sick with a cold or the flu, other than to tell them to get plenty of rest, drink fluids and take Tylenol or ibuprofin. He says some flu victims can get relief through over-the-counter medication, but there are drawbacks. He’s been trying anti-viral medications like Flumadine to shorten the course of the illness but they have to be taken within the first 48 hours of the illness and may only shorten it by a day or a day and a half. Cardott says he’s not trying to discourage people from seeking medical help if they’re sick, to the contrary. He says infants and children, the elderly, and people with compromised immune systems -should- seek care if they’re ill before the problem becomes more serious.
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