Flu and cold cases up in Washoe County

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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - If you feel like a lot of people have been getting sick lately, you're right.

"We have been seeing quite a bit of flu this season and a little earlier than other years, especially this week," says Northern Nevada Medical Group physician Molly Torvinen.

Torvinen says it's not just the flu that's going around. She has seen an increase in a number of illnesses.

"This week specifically I've seen more gastroenteritis than influenza. I have seen a couple of cases, and I think a little more than we would see this time of year, but I would say the stomach bug and the sinus infection is the bugs of the week."

With many of the symptoms seeming similar, Torvinen says it's important to try to differentiate between true influenza and a cold.

"Colds are normally more indolent. You just, sort of, oh, I'm coming down with something. Then over the next few days you get sicker and sicker. You start to cough. Your throat starts to get a little bit sore. Your ears may get a little bit stuffy. They don't normally have a high fever associated with them."

It's recommended that people who think they have the flu see a doctor within 48 hours, which is the most effective window, to start taking antiviral medicine. Torvinen says if anyone has been around someone with the virus they should see a doctor as well.

"Not necessarily, you know, the person three doors down, but somebody close to you, then we actually do prophylaxis. We give an antibiotic or an antiviral in this case to prevent you from coming down with it."

According to Torvinen, the best way to prevent the illness in general is getting a flu shot.

"We like people to get it in October, but it's never too late. The peak of flu season in Washoe County is actually normally in the late January/early February, so people still have time."

Whether you come down with the flu or a cold, doctors say most infections last seven to 14 days. Doctors also say children under the age of 2 and older patients over 65 are most susceptible to the flu.

They also say if you are experiencing cold symptoms, hydration, rest and Tylenol or ibuprofen are the best until the cold runs its course.

The worst of the cold and flu season is ahead, so be prepared.

For more information on flu by state, click here.