Treating cold & flu during winter weather

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ARDMORE, OK - With the cold weather comes the cold and flu season, which has people on high alert this year with the additional threat of H1N, but how can you tell if you have the common cold or the flu? Dara Downs has more.

In today's busy world many of us don't have time to get sick, so we go for a quick fix. According to the research firm Mintel International, Americans spent $3.6 billion on over-the-counter cold remedies last year. Experts say while most of those will work, they won't always make you better.

The fluctuation of warm and cold temperatures we've seen this winter has caused a lot of different problems, and if you aren't prepared for the cold it can be harmful to your health.

Dr. Kyle Watkins, the director of medicine at Mercy Memorial Wellness Center, says it's what you choose to wear that has the most impact on how you'll feel.

"They may not be properly dressed you know for the conditions or they may not be expecting it and a lot of times when they do that, if their body gets chilled it just puts a little extra stress on their body so their immune system may get a little suppressed and sometimes that causes or allows an infection to develop," Dr. Watkins says.

Dr. Watkins says while symptoms for the common cold and the flu can be similar a high fever or sudden onset of severe symptoms is a good indicator of the flu.

"If you're not for sure if this is a cold or if this is something I'm going to get. If you have questions I think its a good idea to come in because we can usually tell pretty quickly in the office if it's something that needs to be treated."

Dr. Watkins says although the high level of concern about H1N1 has dropped it's still a good idea to get vaccinated.

"The H1N1 can have the same kind of consequences as the seasonal flu, you know secondary infections, but it tends to be hitting the younger population a little more strongly, and we see those complications, so this year I think it's probably a good year to be proactive," says Mark Glenn, Director of Pharmacy for Mercy Memorial.

Experts say for minor cold symptoms, most over the counter remedies are fine, but always make sure the active ingredients won't react badly with any medications your taking.

"If you have high blood pressure or heart problems and some of the medications can interact with the pseudophedrine so if you're a healthy adult you know either one you know it's just personal preference," Glenn says.

Glenn says he's often asked if taking herbal remedies or Vitamin C will help fend off a cold, he says while it might be good for you there is no research that shows it can prevent a cold.

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