One of the few things we can be sure of in 2020 is that influenza (flu) season is on the way. With the overlap of flu season and a worldwide pandemic, there are bound to be many questions about keeping yourself and loved ones safe. One of the first steps to preventing the spread of a viral illness is knowing the symptoms and identifying when you are sick.
It may be difficult to determine if you are infected with COVID-19, the flu or another seasonal illness. ClearChoiceMD Urgent Care’s CEO and founder, Dr. Marcus Hampers, explains, “The symptoms associated with influenza and COVID-19 can be overlapping, so it will be important to determine which infection is present, and also consider other seasonal respiratory infections, such as respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), the common cold virus, and several others.” Common symptoms that COVID-19 and flu share include:
- Fever or feeling feverish/chills
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Fatigue (tiredness)
- Sore throat
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Muscle pain or body aches
- Vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults
One key difference is that COVID-19 symptoms may include a change in or loss of taste or smell. To further complicate things, “We also know that COVID-19 symptoms can range from the absence of any symptoms to peculiar, somewhat innocuous, and seemingly benign,” says Dr. Hampers.
It is also possible for people to be infected with the flu and COVID-19 at the same time. Because of this and similarities in symptoms, patients with respiratory symptoms may need to undergo testing for both the flu and COVID-19. Those experiencing symptoms are encouraged to seek testing and treatment at a local medical provider. ClearChoiceMD Urgent Care offers COVID-19 testing and flu testing at all our urgent care locations.
The spread of COVID-19 and the flu from person-to-person is very similar. Both are spread between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet). Droplets containing the illness can land in the mouth or nose of people nearby when those who are sick cough, sneeze, or talk. Once droplets enter the body, an infection is likely to occur.
It is also possible that a person can get infected by physical human contact (i.e., shaking hands) or by touching a surface or object that has virus on it and then touching his or her own mouth, nose, or eyes.
Fortunately, many of the same precautions are used to prevent the spread of both the flu and COVID-19. To prevent the spread of viral illnesses, including the flu and COVID-19:
- Wear a face mask
- Stay away from those who are sick
- Wash your hands
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth
In addition to the above, the number one way to prevent contracting the flu is to receive the flu vaccination. There is a common misconception that it is possible for the vaccine to give you the virus. That is not possible because there is no active virus within the vaccination. Your immune system reacts to the vaccination as if it is the flu, creating antibodies against the virus. Any side effects you feel from the vaccination are caused by your immune system’s reaction, which might mimic less severe symptoms of the flu.
This year more than ever, getting the flu vaccine is crucial to your part in protecting yourself, your loved ones, and those who cannot protect themselves. No-Cost Flu Shots* are offered at ClearChoiceMD Urgent Care during October, no appointment necessary – just walk in!
*Insurance card and photo ID required, ages 4+. If you have healthcare insurance, we will bill your carrier for you and cover any patient balance owed for the vaccine. If you lack insurance, the cost will be covered entirely. Either way, there is no cost to you, the patient.