So you have a cold. Fever. Sore throat.
Coronavirus? Or the flu?
As the flu season approaches, it can be difficult to tell the difference – even for doctors.
“Both the flu and COVID can cause headaches, and both can lead to coughing, and you can get tired and sore,”
“To make it even more confusing just because you have the flu doesn’t mean you can’t have COVID,” Cunningham said. “Last March, some studies claimed that up to 10% or 15% of people were infected with more than one virus at a time.”
It is easier to distinguish between allergies and coronavirus, he said. “Allergies usually include the common cold. You should not have a fever; you really should not have pain in the body and more importantly, if you are taking allergy medication, there should be some improvement in your symptoms. “
The biggest telltale symptom of a coronavirus: Loss of taste and smell that does not occur with the flu or allergies, said Dr. Christopher Brenner, a primary care physician at Spectrum Health.
“When people report a sudden loss of smell when they can’t taste, you can bet dollars that it’s most likely a coronavirus,” he said. “Another thing about the coronavirus is sometimes diarrhea, which is a telltale sign.”
And while the flu and coronavirus are respiratory illnesses, the coronavirus is much more likely to cause wheezing and shortness of breath, Brenner said.
In addition to the symptoms themselves, there are some other important differences between the flu and COVID-19, Brenner added.
For example, people usually disappear with flu symptoms within a few days of exposure to the virus, while it can take up to two weeks for COVID-19.
Coronavirus is also much more contagious than the flu and has a higher mortality rate, which is why it is important for people with symptoms to be tested so that they can identify others who may have been exposed.
If people think they have the flu or coronavirus, they may want to have a virtual appointment with a doctor instead of going to a doctor’s office or emergency room where they could expose others, doctors say. Brenner noted that Spectrum’s telemetry service allows patients to receive laboratory test orders without visiting a doctor in person.
Concerns about the approach of the flu season to the pandemic are prompting doctors and health departments to urge people to get the flu vaccine this year.
“For those who have been on the fence in the past because of the flu vaccine, you really need to consider it this year,” Brenner said.
One potential benefit of the pandemic: Strategies that people use to prevent coronavirus, such as wearing a mask, social distancing and hand hygiene, can lead to a fairly mild flu season, experts say. This is especially true if more people are getting flu shots.
“Wearing a mask protects us not only from COVID, but also from many other respiratory viral diseases,” said Dr. Trini Matthew, an infectious disease specialist at Beaumont Health in the Detroit subway. “It’s the same with hand hygiene. So you are getting more money for your money now by making all these prevention efforts. “
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