Flu season is upon us—and if we’ve learned anything during this pandemic, it’s that a typical sore throat, or a common cough is not normal in the age of COVID. So how do you know if you have the flu or COVID-19?
With the two viruses sharing SO many of the same symptoms, it can be hard to know the difference between the two.
Body aches, sore throat, fever, cough, shortness of breath, fatigue and headaches are all symptoms that point to both. One difference between the two is that COVID is more likely to cause a loss of taste or smell. But it’s not a guaranteed symptom, which means it’s not a reliable way to determine what you’re sick with.
Experts say it’s impossible to know which virus you have without being tested.
Here are a few things to know as we enter the cold and flu months amid the coronavirus pandemic.
People with the flu generally feel the sickest during the first week of illness, while COVID-19 patience often don’t experience any symptoms until week two or three of infection. This is unfortunate, because you wouldn’t have any reason to go to the doctor or get tested until you FEEL sick. But with COVID-19, those early weeks of silent infection are the drivers behind this pandemic.
Both the flu and coronavirus spread through droplets from the nose and mouth. Both can spread before people know they are sick. But it’s that incubation period that makes all the difference.
So as we face cold and flu season, it’s more important than ever to continue practicing social distancing, wearing a mask, and staying away from large gatherings.
And as if knowing the difference between these two viruses wasn’t already near impossible on your own, experts warn that you CAN in fact have both the coronavirus AND the flu AT THE SAME TIME.
Whether you get tested for one or both viruses will likely depend on how available tests are and which viruses are circulating where you live.
Doctors warn that the best way to prevent the flu is by getting a flu shot. Health officials are hoping to see record numbers of people getting flu shots this year so hospitals aren’t overwhelmed by the convergence of two epidemics at once.
Bottom line: Do your part to prevent the spread of both the flu and COVID-19. And if you’re worried you may have contracted one virus or the other, call your doctor immediately.
Stay vigilant friends, and hopefully we can come out of this year better than we started it.