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How to Tell the Difference Between Flu, Allergies, and COVID-19

Monday , March 16 , 2020

How to Tell the Difference Between Flu, Allergies, and COVID-19

Runny nose? Sneezing? Watery eyes?

That might be the start of seasonal allergies, or perhaps a cold . . . but probably not COVID-19.

Medical experts say that if you’re displaying symptoms of the novel coronavirus or you’ve been exposed to someone who has symptoms, you should contact your primary care physician right away – but it can be difficult to tell the difference between flu, allergies, and COVID-19.

Here’s what you need to know:

 

Differences Between Allergies, Flu, and Coronavirus

 

Seasonal Allergies

Symptoms:

Sneezing, runny/stuffy nose, itchy/watery eyes, itchy nose, itchy roof of mouth

 

Duration:

Allergy symptoms last if you are exposed to the allergen. Seasonal allergies can last for weeks on end.

 

Time of year:

Seasonal allergies are more common in the spring and autumn.

 

How to tell the difference:

Although rare, other illnesses (including COVID-19) may have similar symptoms to allergies. The difference is often that allergy symptoms happen all at once, whereas a viral infection tends to cause one symptom at a time (headache, then runny nose, then cough, etc.).

 

Flu

Symptoms:

Fever over 100.4 F, dry cough, chills and sweats, congestion, sore throat, muscle aches/weakness, and fatigue. Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, although this is more common in children than adults.

 

Duration:

For most people, the flu is a short-term illness that resolves on its own. Symptoms typically appear one to four days after exposure and last for five to seven days.

 

Time of year:

Influenza is more common between late fall and early spring, but can occur at any time of the year.

 

How to tell the difference:

Headache, aches and pain, sore throat, and fatigue – symptoms that are common with flu – don’t typically present in Coronavirus patients.

 

COVID-19

Symptoms:

Fever, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing. Symptoms can range from mild to severe and are often worse for the elderly and those with preexisting conditions.

 

Duration:

Symptoms usually appear 2 to 14 days after exposure and how long they last depends on the severity of the case. People with more mild symptoms appear to get better in 10 to 14 days, while more serious cases may result in pneumonia and last quite a bit longer.

 

Time of year:

The COVID-19 strain of coronavirus appears to be brand new and researchers are still studying the virus. It is assumed that the illness will be most prevalent between late fall and early spring, much like the common cold or flu.

 

How to tell the difference:

Experts say people should look for the big three: A combination of fever, cough, and shortness of breath. Unlike flu or cold, these are often the ONLY three symptoms present with a coronavirus infection.

 

What to do if You Feel Ill

 If you feel ill and suspect that you may have coronavirus, call your primary care physician and ask for guidance.

According to the CDC, you should:

  • Stay at home and avoid public spaces
  • Separate yourself from other people and animals in your home
  • Wear a facemask if you are around other people
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you sneeze or cough
  • Clean your hands often
  • Avoid sharing personal items (toothbrush, utensils, bedding, etc.)
  • Clean high-touch items often (keyboards, phones, remote controls, etc.)
  • Monitor your symptoms

If your illness gets worse (shortness of breath) call a medical professional immediately, and in the event of a medical emergency call 911.

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Why You Should Worry About the Flu, Not Coronavirus

Monday , February 24 , 2020

Why You Should Worry About the Flu, Not Coronavirus

The Corona Virus (COVID-19) is all over the news. People around the world are worried about contracting the deadly disease.

Here, in the United States, do you need to be concerned?

Just like the common cold, COVID-19 attacks the respiratory system and causes symptoms like fever and cough.  People feel ill because they’ve never encountered this virus before and need time to build up an immunity.

But the bottom line is this: We are still in flu season and that’s a more immediate danger – especially to seniors. If you are an older adult, use these tips to help reduce the chance of getting either illness:

You Are Likely to Get Sick

As we age, our frequency of illness becomes less and less. That’s because a lifetime of sicknesses has helped build up an immunity to many common viruses and bacteria.

Still, viruses mutate all the time – that’s why you catch colds every year.

COVID-19 is in a class of viruses referred to as human coronaviruses (HCoVs) – the same type of illness that causes epidemics such as SARS and MERS. While these viruses are absolutely terrifying, they’re also generally easy to contain.

The World Health Organization constantly monitors new outbreaks of such illnesses and works with health agencies around the world to prevent pandemics. Currently, although the newest coronavirus outbreak has spread outside of China, the mortality rate has been very low.

So far, COVID-19 has causes more than 75,000 illnesses and 2,000 deaths. That may seem like a lot, but it’s nothing when compared with the flu, which has already caused an estimated 26 million illnesses and 14,000 deaths just this season.

How to Stay Healthy

The CDC recommends that all people over the age of 6 months get vaccinated against the flu. Because people aged 65 years and old are at a higher risk of developing serious complications from flu compared to younger adults, there are two vaccines designed specifically for the older population.

In addition to getting the flu shot, the CDC recommends these everyday preventative measures:

  • Avoid close contact: Avoid being in close contact with people who are sick. Likewise, if you are sick, stay home whenever possible to avoid spreading germs.
  • Wash your hands: Washing your hands is the single-most effective way to avoid sickness during cold and flu season. Sing the ABC song or Happy Birthday to ensure you’re washing for the appropriate length of time.
  • Avoid touching your face: Try to hold off on scratching your nose, putting your fingers near your eyes, picking up food with your fingers, or anything else that may put your hands near your face. Germy fingers near open orifices is one of the fastest ways to fall ill!
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces: Those with cold and flu can spread germs up to seven days after being ill. To stay safe, regularly disinfect all surfaces in your home – even if you and those around you seem well.
  • Practice good health habits: A strong, healthy body is more likely to fight off illness than one that is run down and worn. Try to eat a healthy diet, get plenty of sleep, and take measures to stay stress-free.

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