Do I have the Flu, or is it COVID-19?

Sars-COV-2 vs Influenza under a microscope

Now that fall’s around the corner, it will soon be flu season. 2020 is a little different than years prior though. Many people are concerned about knowing how to detect whether they have a flu or they have COVID-19. Establishing some similarities and differences between the flu and COVID-19 may help us determine which virus is ailing us. Always talk with your physician, in any case.

Be Prepared

It is always advisable to seek available vaccinations before you get sick. Get vaccinated for the Flu and as soon as one becomes available to the public, get vaccinated for any other viruses. Understand that vaccines are preventative measures that aren’t always successful. They average about 85% effective for the derivative of the strain/s. Therefore, always try to practice other preventative measures like washing your hands and keeping your hands away from your face as much as possible. We can’t control what sick people do, so practice social distance when you suspect someone is sick. Although, some may argue that masks do more harm than good, it may be an option that works as a preventative measure for you. There are studies that show proper mask wearing may prevent higher exposure to the inoculum, therefore decreasing the severity of the virus. We are a healthier community because we vaccinate, practice good hygiene and use other preventative measures to keep from getting sick.

Both are Viruses

Viruses are not bacterial infections, therefore they can not be treated with an antibiotic. Since this is the case, this leaves the physician addressing the most prominent symptoms first which are similar in COVID-19 and the flu. A high fever, respiratory symptoms or shortness of breath, trouble breathing, sudden dizziness, extreme exhaustion, confusion and dehydration are emergency warning signs for both viruses. But, COVID-19 has proven more deadly for a number of reasons. Mainly, there is no community wide immunity for COVID-19. COVID-19 also leads to more widespread infections than the flu. Vulnerable people (those with underlying medical conditions) tend to have more difficulty recovering from COVID-19 than the flu. Therefore, guidelines and lockdowns have changed how family doctors handle patients’ routine visits (telemedicine) to protect them from potential contact with the deadly virus. Emergency cases of both can lead to complications such as pneumonia, respiratory failure, cardiac injury, secondary bacterial infections and multiple organ failure. Since COVID-19 is a new virus, unexpected complications may follow as the patient continues to ail. In the past century, never has flu cases filled all hospitals throughout the nation forcing doctors and nurses to deal with repleted resources consisting of items and drugs like n95 masks, sanitizers, controlled substances, gowns and ventilators. Supplies like these are required for the sickest patients of both viruses but COVID-19 has overloaded hospitals all around the world in 2020.

Key Differences

The key difference is that a healthy person can be a carrier of COVID-19 and not have the slightest clue he/she is. With the flu, the carrier usually knows he or she may be infected. The onset of prominent symptoms can come much slower, anywhere from a day to approximately two weeks after coming in contact with COVID-19. With the flu, it is usually around three days after contact. It is also likely with COVID-19, the infected person will lose his/her sense of taste (ageusia) and sense of smell (anosmia). A COVID-19 cough is likely to be a dryer cough than the flu cough. Vomiting and diaherra are more likely symptoms of the flu, but may occur with COVID-19. Since COVID-19 virus is novel, it is important to stay informed and listen closely to community health advisors and your family doctor’s advise. Follow reputable health awareness websites that continually update. Here is a good summary from healthline:
Healthline symptoms comparison between Covid-19 and the Flu

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