Deciphering if you have the flu, common cold, or Hepatitis A

Breaking down the symptoms for each illness

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, (News4Utah) -- Deciphering exactly what kind of illness you have can be tricky.

Is it the full blown flu or the common cold? Add in the Hepatitis A outbreak and it can be scary.

Symptoms of all of these viruses can seem to blend together. A closer look at them, though, makes it easy to know the difference.

The common cold and the flu come with similar symptoms, but the onset of the flu is far more dramatic.

"With influenza you're well one minute, than you're very sick," said Ilene Risk, Salt Lake County Health Epidemiology Bureau Director

Flu symptoms are much more severe and sudden:

"You're really sick, it's tough to get out of bed to get a glass of water."

Flu symptoms:

  • Fever over 100 F
  • Achy muscles
  • Chills and sweating
  • Dry cough
  • Fatigue
  • Nasal congestion
  • Headache

There's a slower onset when it comes to the common cold and bronchitis.

Cold and other respiratory symptoms:

  • cough
  • sore throat
  • slower onset
  • milder than the flu and quicker recovery

You can rule out the flu, health experts say, if you feel nauseous, there's no such thing as the 'stomach flu.'

"With influenza, you don't have stomach problems. A lot of people refer to the stomach flu. It's a respiratory illness," said Risk. 

However, Hep A is a different story.
Hepatitis A symptoms:

  • Fever, fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal pain
  • Dark urine
  • Clay-colored stool
  • Joint pain
  • Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes)

 "A telltale sign of Hep A is jaundice which is a yellowing of the eyes and skin, dark urine and light color stools," said Risk. 
When it comes to preventing the flu and Hep A. They're the same.  Health experts say get vaccinated and wash your hands frequently.  If you have the flu, you can get a prescription for anti-viral treatment such as Tamiflu to lessen the severity of the symptoms.

The problem with preventing the spread of Hep A and the flu is that you're most contagious when you don't even know it. The incubation period of Hep A, on average, takes a month for the onset of symptoms and the flu could take a couple of days.  If you have symptoms of any of these viruses you are urged to see a doctor.

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