Cold and Flu 101: What You Need to Know

Flu Shot Information

Flu season is approaching fast. Kathleen Burns, APRN, joins Channel 4 KRNV (NBC) and Channel 11 KRXI (FOX) for BestMedicine Wednesday to give us all the info we need, including where to get your flu shot.

Experts agree the best defense against the flu is to get the flu vaccine, and the sooner, the better, too. We asked Kathleen Burns, an advance practice registered nurse at Renown Health, about preventing the flu and how to get protected.

Who should get the flu shot?

Almost everyone. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends a yearly flu vaccine for everyone 6 months of age and older as the first and most important step in protecting against influenza. Different flu shots are approved for people of different ages, but there are flu shots that are approved for use in people as young as 6 months of age and up. Flu shots are approved for use in pregnant women and people with chronic health conditions. Bottom line: Your best chance of avoiding the flu this season is to get your flu vaccine.


How do you know if it’s the flu or a cold?

The flu and the common cold have similar symptoms and it can be difficult to tell the difference between the two. Your healthcare provider can give you a test within the first few days of your illness to determine whether or not you have the flu.

In general, the flu is worse than the common cold. Symptoms such as fever, body aches, fatigue and cough are more common and intense with the flu. People with colds are more likely to have a runny or stuffy nose.

Flu symptoms include:

  • A 100 degree or higher fever or feeling feverish (not everyone with the flu has a fever)
  • A cough and/or sore throat
  • A runny or stuffy nose
  • Headaches and/or body aches
  • Chills
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea, vomiting, and/or diarrhea (most common in children)

Does washing your hands really help prevent sickness like cold and flu?

Yes. Again, the single best way to prevent seasonal flu is to get vaccinated each year, but good health habits like washing your hands often can help stop the spread of germs and prevent illnesses like the cold and flu.

The proper way to wash your hands is to wet them with clean, running water (warm or cold) and apply soap. Lather your hands by rubbing them together. Be sure to lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails. Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. If you need a timer, hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice. Rinse your hands well and dry them using a clean towel or air dry them.

If soap and water are unavailable, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol to clean hands.

Other good health habits include covering your cough; avoiding close contact with people who are sick; staying home when you are sick; and practicing a healthy lifestyle by getting plenty of sleep, being physically active, drinking plenty of fluids and eating nutritious food.

Where can someone get the flu shot?

Your primary care provider can answer any questions about the flu shot and get you vaccinated. Renown also has 25 events scheduled through early December to help make it even easier to get vaccinated.