As the coronavirus pandemic continues to rage, flu season has begun, affecting millions of Americans each year. Covid-19 and the flu have similar symptoms, making it hard, if you are infected, to determine which you have. Stellar Transport, the premier medical transport service on the Space Coast and beyond, offers these tips to tell them apart and help you and your family stay safe.
Understanding the Symptoms of COVID-19 and the Flu
If you begin experiencing the similar symptoms of COVID-19 and the flu, you immediately wonder which you may have. Both are viral infections which manifest in the respiratory track. COVID-19 and the flu are spread through direct contact with surface or airborne virus-laden droplets and can cause serious problems, particularly for those with chronic, ongoing conditions.
While symptoms of the flu come on often without warning, COVID-19 symptoms may manifest up to 14 days after you have been exposed. Both conditions present with fever and cough as common symptoms. Aches, pains, headaches, and fatigue are common among flu sufferers, but only occur in some instances among those infected with coronavirus. Congestion, sore throat, and diarrhea can come with the flu, but rarely manifest in COVID-19. Shortness of breath, as well as loss of taste and smell are common in coronavirus sufferers.
The Effects of COVID-19 and the Flu
The flu, caused by contagious influenza viruses, effects the throat, nose, and lungs. The effects can range from mild to severe, sometimes leading to viral pneumonia, and even death. Those who receive the flu vaccine are better protected against infection, and if infected the duration of the flu tends to be shorter and less severe.
COVID-19, caused by a strain of the coronavirus, infects the lungs and is quite contagious. For those infected, symptoms my be mild to severe, sometimes leading to pneumonia, kidney failure, lung damage, acute respiratory distress syndrome, and even death. A vaccine has been developed and is now beginning distribution.
For both COVID-19 and the flu, treatment protocols are dependent on the severity and extent of the symptoms.
Assessing the Risks
The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) report adults who age 65 and older and those with chronic medical conditions (asthma, diabetes, heart disease, auto-immune conditions, etc.) to be most at risk for complications related to the flu and COVID-19 infection. Additional risk factors for COVID-19 include those who are pregnant, on certain medications, and those living in crowded conditions or poverty.
For avoiding the seasonal flu, getting the annual flu vaccine is positive preventative. As the COVID-19 vaccine become available in your area, the same is true, the vaccine is a positive preventative. In addition, there are steps you can take to help protect you and your loved ones from infection. Avoiding contact with those who are ill and staying home if you are ill are among the first steps. If you are ill, get the medical care you need. Practice good hygiene, washing hands frequently or using hand sanitizer, and cleaning and disinfecting common touchpoints is key. Wear a mask when venturing out and practice physical distancing (six feet). If your or your loved ones are high risk, staying home is the safest option.
If you or your family members have been exposed or are having symptoms of the flu or COVID-19, contact your physician for guidance. If signs of an emergent situation are present, seek emergency care immediately. Should safe, non-emergency medical transport be required for your loved one, call on the team at Stellar Transport to meet your medical transport needs with care and safety.