Keep A Covid Test Or Two On Hand
A crucial tool this time of year is an at-home COVID-19 test. That way, if you start to feel sick, you can check to see if your symptoms are due to COVID-19 in a matter of minutes.
Most private insurance companies cover the cost of these over-the-counter tests, and Medicare beneficiaries can receive up to eight a month, free of charge. You can also check in with a nearby health center to see if it offers COVID-19 test kits to members of the community.
Particularly given the nonspecific nature of a lot of COVID symptoms and the fact that there can be a diminished fever response and other kinds of atypical symptoms, I think the safest thing would be to definitely test, Shaw says.
If youre positive for COVID-19, you may be eligible for an antiviral treatment that can significantly lessen your chances of severe illness. Two have been authorized by the Food and Drug Administration: Paxlovid, from Pfizer, and molnupiravir, from Merck and Ridgeback.
Its important to start these medicines early in the disease course, though, so talk to your doctor right away if you find out you have COVID-19. Some pharmacists can also prescribe the pills, or you can find them at one-stop test-to-treat centers.
If you test negative for COVID but symptoms persist, your health care provider may conduct a flu test. As with COVID-19, prescription antiviral treatments taken early on can help you feel better if you have flu.
Get Tested For Flu And Covid
If you start having cold-like symptoms, you should get tested for the flu and COVID-19. This is especially true if youâre more likely to get really sick or die from these illnesses.
You might get very sick from the flu or COVID-19 if you:
- Are older than 50
- Have more than one health condition
- Have asthma or other lung diseases
- Have a weakened immune system
If it turns out you have the flu or COVID-19, your doctor can tailor your treatment to include medicine for that specific illness. But antiviral medicines for COVID-19 and the flu only work when you take them soon after having symptoms, which is why doctors advise people to take action quickly. âDon’t wait to see how you feel. Just come in and get tested,â Leykum says.
Some public health labs use a test that checks for both the flu and COVID-19. It helps health officials track each disease, saves time and testing materials, and may give you faster test results.
How To Tell If You Have A Cold The Flu Or Covid
Cooler temperatures and the start of the school year signal the start of seasonal sicknesses. Viruses that cause common colds and the flu will mix with COVID-19 and make it difficult to know whats making you ill. Gundersens infection preventionists Megan Meller and Meghan Buechel help you tell them apart.
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Is It Possible To Have The Cold The Flu Rsv Or Covid
There have been some reports about people being infected with two concurrently. We do know that all of these viruses have the potential to shed for a long time, so it may be true that someone could test positive for both COVID-19 and RSV, but RSV is the only one causing symptoms. Theres not enough research or cases to truly understand these scenarios yet.
Whats The Difference Between The Common Cold The Flu Rsv And Covid
They are triggered by different viruses.
- The flu is caused by the influenza virus, which is seen worldwide and has a seasonal cycle in temperate regions, typically starting in the fall and lasting through the spring. It leads to high fevers, coughing, body aches and other respiratory symptoms.
- The common cold, on the other hand, is caused by the rhinovirus and comes with milder symptoms: a runny nose, slight cough. Although everybody experiences illnesses differently, in most cases, if you have a cold youre still able to function, whereas with the flu you may not.
- RSV, meanwhile, is a result of the respiratory syncytial virus, which can affect the respiratory system, including the nose, throat and lungs. In most people, the virus will present like a colda cough, runny nose and sometimes a feverbut in some it can be dangerous. In infants, RSV can cause pneumonia or bronchiolitis, and people over the age of 50 or those with heart or lung disease are also at risk for complications.
- COVID-19 is caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 and is more serious because of the higher mortality rate. Its characterized by fevers, cough, runny nose, body aches, and loss of taste and smell. For the most part, children seem to fare much better than adults if they get the coronavirus, but families should still be extra cautious.
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When To See A Doctor
Complications from a cold are rare. However, a cold can make you more susceptible to infections such as sinusitis, bronchitis, or ear infections. The most severe complication of the flu is pneumonia, which can be fatal especially in vulnerable people such as the elderly and those with a chronic illness. You should consult a doctor if you notice any of the following:
- Symptoms that dont get better after 10 days or get worse instead of better
- Fever of 103ºF or higher
- Fever along with sweating, chills and a cough with colored phlegm
- Severe sinus pain in your face or forehead
- Severe headache
- Thick yellow/green drainage from your nose
- Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
- Pressure or pain in the chest
- Sore throat and fever with no other symptoms
- Severe or persistent vomiting
If you get cold or the flu and have a health condition that makes it more likely that you will have a complication , you should see a nurse to be evaluated.
What Should Be Top
The main takeaway is that we should all be doing our best to look after our children, our families and each other. Whether thats getting the flu and COVID vaccines, washing our hands, maintaining physical distancing or wearing our masks, there are tangible measures we can take to protect children in our community.
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Colds Dont Usually Come With A Significant Fever
While you may be running a little warmer, colds rarely come with a significant fever. And while you can still have the flu without a fever, the flu typically comes with a few days above 100° Fahrenheit.
A flu fever will likely come on fast. This is an especially common flu symptom in kids. Keep an eye on the little ones and the elderly, as they will be more susceptible to complications. Also, keep drinking liquids and get lots of rest.
Earaches: Can Come From Colds Or Flu
Congestion from either ailment can make your ear pressure rise. This affects the eustachian tube, which connects your throat to your middle ear. It can cause a dull ear pain, hearing loss, and the sensation of âpoppingâ in your ears. It usually goes away with your other symptoms.
See your doctor if the earache lasts longer than your sickness or you feel sudden, strong pain. You may have an ear infection that needs treatment.
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British Columbia Specific Information
Influenza is an infection of the respiratory system caused by the influenza virus. Symptoms vary from mild to severe and can include fever, headache, runny nose, sore throat or cough. The influenza vaccines protect against the viruses that cause influenza. To learn more about the influenza vaccines, and to access influenza-related information from your health authority, visit our Influenza Season health feature.
The symptoms of flu are similar to other respiratory illnesses including the common cold and COVID-19. Use the BC COVID-19 Self-Assessment Tool to find out if you or your family members need further assessment or testing for COVID-19. To learn more about the coronavirus, symptoms, how it spreads and prevention visit the Coronavirus health feature.
What About Other Infections
A more significant concern may be catching a bacterial infection while youre already sick with the flu.
For example, a review published in 2017 in Frontiers in Microbiology highlighted the ability of bacterial illnesses, like pneumonia and staph infections, to piggyback onto an existing flu illness. According to the researchers, bacterial illnesses occur afterward or concurrently in as many as 65% of lab-confirmed flu cases.
According to the researchers, the influenza virus obliges bacterial illnesses in many ways. For example, the flu can weaken your immune system and cause cell destruction, making you more susceptible to bacterial illnesses. Some illnesses, like bacterial pneumonia, can worsen the severity of the flu and other viruses.
Antibiotics can help treat bacterial illnesses. But those drugs come with problems, like overprescription and antibiotic resistance.
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Causes And Risk Factors Of Colds And The Flu
The flu is caused by influenza viruses, but many distinct viruses can cause a cold.
Common cold symptoms typically develop about one to three days after exposure to cold-causing viruses. These viruses can be spread through the air, personal contact, and respiratory secretions encounters such as a handshake, touching contaminated objects, and exposure to an infected persons sneezes or coughs, notes the Mayo Clinic.
Shouting, singing, or even simply talking can also release contaminated droplets into the air, which can then be inhaled, transmitting the virus, according to Houston Methodist.
Certain groups of people are more susceptible to complications from getting a cold or the flu, including the very young, older adults, and people with a compromised immune system.
Factors that can increase your risk of becoming infected include:
Am I At Higher Risk For Serious Illness From Covid
Lets be clear: Both COVID-19 and flu can result in severe illness, complications, hospitalizations and even death. Whats scary about COVID-19 is that healthy people with no known risk factors can get seriously ill. We dont know yet why some people get really sick from COVID-19 and others dont.
High-risk groups for flu complications:
- Adults 65 years and older
- Children younger than 2 years old
- Adults with chronic health conditions including asthma, diabetes, heart disease, and immunocompromised
High-risk groups for COVID-19 complications:
- Adults 65 years and older
- People with certain underlying medical conditions
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Causes And Symptoms Of The Flu And Common Cold
Knowing a little about how and why the two illnesses occur may help explain how catching both viral illnesses at the same time may happen.
There are several types of influenza virus, two of which, influenza A and B, are the typical causes of seasonal flu. In contrast, several viruses can cause the common cold, but the most common culprit is the rhinovirus.
Symptoms of the flu and the common cold are similar, and sometimes, it can be difficult to distinguish between them. Still, there are some key differences.
Is There An Optimal Time To Get The Flu Shot
As soon as its available, you should get it. Every year, the flu vaccine is created so that the immunity lasts for the whole season. So, if its being offered at your clinic, dont delay. A lot of times people will say, Oh, Ill get it in a few weeks, and then forget or, even worse, they will get the flu before theyre immunized.
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Whats The Difference Between The Common Cold And A Chest Cold
A chest cold, or acute bronchitis, causes irritation and a buildup of mucus in the lungs. Common colds turn into chest colds when the virus travels from the nose and throat to the lungs. Occasionally, bacteria cause chest colds.
You can have a cough with a common cold or a chest cold. But chest colds produce a wet cough, meaning you may feel or cough up phlegm. You may also have:
- A cough that keeps you up all night.
- Shortness of breath.
Flu: Comes On Fast And Furious
If you feel like you’ve been hit by a truck, it’s probably the flu. Symptoms like sore throat, fever, headache, muscle aches, congestion, and cough tend to come on suddenly. Colds are usually less intense and include a runny or stuffy nose. The flu gets better over 2 to 5 days, but you might feel run-down for a week or longer. Colds come on slowly and last up to 10 days.
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Get Treatment And Care Without Leaving The House
Whether youre stuck at home with a fever or you arent quite ready to leave your house yet, you can still get quality cold and flu treatment online. You can:
Make a video visit appointment for face-to-face care from a doctor or nurse practitioner. With video visits, your doctor will listen to your symptoms, answer questions and work with you to create a tailored treatment plan if needed.
Start a virtual visit anytime, anyplace through Virtuwell. With Virtuwell, no appointment is necessary and treatment is available 24/7. Getting started is easy. Well ask you a few questions, and youll get your diagnosis and treatment plan from a board-certified nurse practitioner. Each visit is just $59 or less, depending on your insurance.
Theres no prescription medication that can knock out a cold. But if you have the flu, antiviral medications such as Tamiflu and Relenza can help. These fight the flu by keeping viruses from reproducing in your body, and work best when started within 48 hours after symptoms start.
During your video visit or Virtuwell visit, your doctor or clinician will determine whether an antiviral medication should be part of your treatment plan. If needed, theyll write you a prescription and send it to your pharmacy of choice.
Who Should Get An Annual Flu Shot
The Centers for Disease Control recommends the following groups receive an annual flu vaccine shot between November and February :
- All people aged six months and older.
It is especially important for certain individuals at high risk of flu complications and those who come in contact with people at high risk of complications to receive the flu vaccine. These people at high risk include:
- Residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities.
- People who have chronic medical conditions such as asthma, heart disease, diabetes, kidney and liver disorders and chronic lung diseases.
- People with a weakened immune system, for example, people with cancer, HIV/AIDS, or chronic steroid users.
- Household members and caregivers of patients at risk of complications from the flu.
- Women who are or will be pregnant during the flu season .
- Healthcare workers who come into close contact with patients in hospitals, nursing homes, long-term care facilities, and other healthcare facilities.
- Infants and children ages six months through 18 years who are taking long-term aspirin therapy. This puts these individuals at risk for experiencing Reye syndrome after flu infection.
- American Indians/Alaska natives.
- People who have close contact with children under five years of age for example, people who live with children, nannies and providers of daycare services.
- People with Class III obesity .
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How Is A Cold Diagnosed
Typically, an exam is enough to determine if you have a cold. During a physical exam, your healthcare provider will check for signs such as:
- Swelling in the nostrils.
- Swollen lymph nodes in the neck.
You may need tests if your provider suspects you have the flu or another condition. Your provider may give you a nasal swab test to test for the flu virus. Chest X-rays rule out bronchitis or pneumonia.
How To Protect Yourself
The yearly flu vaccine is key to safeguarding against getting a nasty combination of illnesses during cold and flu season.
“We don’t have any kind of vaccine against the cold. But we do have one for the flu, which of course, is the more serious offender and makes more people very sick,” explained Dr. Schaffner.
As with all vaccines, the flu vaccine does not 100% guarantee that you will not become ill. However, the vaccine can reduce your risk of catching the flu and your risk of experiencing serious complications, like bacterial illnesses.
The flu vaccine provides varied protection between seasons. Age, health status, and the “match” between the viruses in the vaccine and those in circulation also affect the vaccine’s effectiveness.
Washing your hands regularly, not sharing utensils or glasses, and avoiding other people who are sick are also essential to protect against the flu and common cold.
And if you come down with an infection, get plenty of rest and fluids to help your body fight the virus.
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The Flu Shot: What You Need To Know
There is no vaccine to prevent the common cold, but practicing good hygiene can reduce the risk of illness or spreading viruses to others. “Most colds stem from viruses that are spread from person to person through close contact,” says William Schaffner, MD, a professor of preventive medicine at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Nashville, Tennessee. The CDC recommends washing your hands often for at least 20 seconds at a time and not touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands. Use alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water arent available.
Wearing a mask can help decrease the transmission of common colds and the flu masking, along with other precautions taken during the pandemic, is thought to be responsible for the large drop in flu cases during 2020 and 2021, notes the CDC. If you have a cold or the flu symptoms, mask up if youll need to be around other people.