You wake up with a bit of a sniffle in your nose. Then maybe your throat starts to get that scratchy feeling. Is it the flu? Is it just a cold? Could it be allergies even in the dead of winter?

The fact that South Louisiana weather fluctuates like a politician at a fundraiser doesn't help. What does help is knowing what ailment you're really facing.

Let's take a look at the symptoms and what you should be looking out for and what you need to tell your healthcare provider.


The Flu: It has been particularly nasty this season and we've gotten an early start into sharing the pain. It is still a good idea to get a flu shot if you haven't. You shouldn't wait until you have symptoms though. What are the symptoms you should be on the look out for when it come to the flu? One of the biggest indicators of flu is a high fever, 101 to 102 degrees, body aches, exhaustion and deep chest discomfort. Be sure and mention these symptoms to your health care provider sense many medicines like Tamiflu can actually help curtail the severity of the flu if caught soon enough. There is a great risk for spreading the disease through contact so it is most prudent that those affected stay home from work and school until cleared by a doctor.

H1N1/Swine Flu: The symptoms are much the same as the seasonal flu described above. However with these strains of the influenza virus there is a component of gastro issues such as loose stools and diarrhea. This could lead to dehydration would could compromise your recovery and cause your illness to be more severe. This form of the flu is highly contagious and every attempt to stay isolated until symptoms subside should be made as to not spread the disease.

A Cold: Think of it like this, the flu is from the neck down, a cold is from the neck up. A cold will create a lot of sinus discomfort, sneezing, wheezing and headaches. You might also run a low grade temperature, maybe 100 degrees or so. Maintaining fluids is important in treating a cold because the body needs that extra water to help flush the system of  all the bad things. You can take medicines such as ibuprofen or Nyquil, it won't help you get better faster but it will help you feel better so you can rest.

Allergies: Like all of the previous maladies allergies start with the running nose, the scratchy throat and the watering eyes, so what's the difference between allergies, a cold and the flu? We suggest using a nasal irrigation system such as a Neti Pot or an attachment you can get for your Water Pik. Running a saline solution through the nasal cavity and sinus cavity will will help to clear many of the irritants that are causing the discomfort. It is also recommended that you visit with your health care provider on over the counter items which can help dry up the sinuses and help make the suffering a little more tolerable.

Let me remind you, I am a disc jockey and not a doctor, this are just some suggestions I found while researching my own symptoms and I thought I would share them with you. There is no substitute for visiting your doctor and getting a professional assessment of your symptoms so you can get well and back on  your feet much sooner.