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Is it COVID or influenza?What you need to know

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So you have a cold. heat. sore throat.

Coronavirus? Or is it the flu?

In the flu season, even doctors can find it difficult to tell the difference.

“Both flu and COVID can cause headaches, both can cause coughing, fatigue and body aches,” said Dr. Dennis Cunningham, an infectious disease specialist at McLaren Health in Flint. Stated. You can tell the difference just by looking at someone. People need lab tests to understand it.

“To make things even more confusing, having the flu doesn’t mean you can’t get COVID,” Cunningham said. “In March last year, some studies stated that up to 10% or 15% of people were infected with multiple viruses at the same time.”

He said it was easier to distinguish between allergies and coronaviruses. “Allergies are usually accompanied by a runny nose. You shouldn’t have a fever. You shouldn’t really have any pain in your body. More importantly, taking allergy medications should improve your symptoms to some extent.”

The most obvious symptoms of coronavirus: loss of taste and smell that does not occur with influenza or allergies, said Dr. Christopher Brenner, Physician of Spectrum Health.

“When people report a sudden loss of odor, when they can’t taste, you can bet the dollar that it’s most likely a coronavirus,” he said. “Another problem with the coronavirus can be diarrhea. This is an obvious sign.”

Both influenza and coronavirus are respiratory illnesses, but coronavirus is much more likely to cause wheezing and shortness of breath, Brenner said.

In addition to the symptoms themselves, Brenner added that there are some other important differences between influenza and COVID-19.

For example, people usually develop symptoms of the flu within a few days of being exposed to the virus, but with COVID-19 it can take up to two weeks.

Coronavirus is much more contagious and has a higher mortality rate than influenza, so it is important for symptomatic individuals to be tested to identify others who may have been exposed.

If you suspect you have the flu or coronavirus, you may want to see a virtual doctor instead of going to a clinic or emergency treatment that may expose others.Brenner said: Spectrum remote serviceWith e, patients can get test orders for tests without having to see a doctor directly.

Concerns over the flu season and the end of the pandemic have led doctors and health departments to urge people to get the flu vaccine this year.

“For those who have stood on the fence about flu shots in the past, this year really needs to be considered,” Brenner said.

One of the potential benefits of a pandemic is that the strategies people are using to prevent the coronavirus, such as wearing masks, increasing social distance, and hand hygiene, can significantly reduce the flu season. Experts say there is. This is especially true if more people are vaccinated against the flu.

“Wearing a mask protects you from COVID as well as many other respiratory viral illnesses,” said Dr. Trini Matthew, an infectious disease specialist at Beaumont Health in Metro Detroit. “The same is true for hand hygiene, so you can benefit more from all these preventative efforts.”

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