The number of influenza cases in Crawford County has steadily increased during the month of January according to the Crawford County Health Department.

County Health Officer Janis Goedeke provided tips on how to recognize the flu and combat it.

“First, it is important to know the difference between the flu and a common cold,” Goedeke said.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, flu symptoms have an abrupt onset and feature fever, usually lasting three to four days, aches and chest discomfort that can be severe, as well as a headache. Cold symptoms have a gradual onset, and fever and headache are usually rare, with less severe symptoms.

Goedeke said making sure to wash hands, get enough sleep and maintain a healthy diet are good ways to prevent the flu.

“If you start to have flu-like symptoms, it is important to get to a doctor as soon as possible,” she said. “Doctors can prescribe antivirals that will battle the flu.”

Other than antivirals, Goedeke recommends flu patients get plenty of rest and not expose themselves to others.

The CDC reported flu conditions in Kansas as “widespread” and currently in the middle of a spike in cases.

Via Christi Hospital Infection Control Coordinator Jamie Cravens said the hospital has seen an increase in flu patients in January.

“It’s that time of year,” Cravens said. “It definitely helps if people get the flu shot to prevent it.”

Goedeke said the health department is still recommending that people receive the flu vaccine, even though flu season has set in.

— Chance Hoener is a staff writer for the Morning Sun. He can be emailed at choener@morningsun.net or follow him on Twitter @ReporterChance.