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Flu vs. Covid

POV: You’re at work performing your daily duties when you start to feel tired. You assume it is because you did not sleep well last night and continue with your tasks. However, over the next hour you begin to develop a headache, scratchy throat, and a fever. You decide to Google your symptoms and receive results of Covid-19 OR Influenza A, which prompts you to ask, “What is the difference?”

Flu or Covid-19

Influenza A and Covid-19 share many of the same symptoms, making it nearly impossible to tell the difference. Symptoms of both Influenza A and Covid-19 include:

· Fever/feeling feverish/chills

· Cough

· Shortness of breath/difficulty breathing

· Fatigue (feeling more tired than usual)

· Sore throat

· Runny/stuffy nose

· Muscle pain or body aches

· Headache

· Vomiting

· Diarrhea

· Change in or loss of taste or smell

Since the symptoms for both illnesses are the same, we must look to the symptom onset and spreading of the virus before we begin to see any differences.

Symptom Onset

When an individual is infected with the flu virus, symptoms typically start one to four days after infection. However, if an individual is infected with the Covid-19 virus, symptoms can appear 2-5 days, and in some cases up to 14 days after infection. It is important to note that both viruses can be asymptomatic, which means the infected individual has no symptoms.

Spreading the Virus

Influenza A patients can be contagious up to 24 hours before the onset of symptoms and then remain contagious the first three to four days of the illness. Covid-19 patients are often contagious two to three days prior to symptom onset and then remain contagious eight days after. It is believed that Covid-19 is more contagious than Influenza A due to its ability to infect mass quantities of people in a short amount of time, also known as “superspreading”.

While knowing the differences between these two very common viruses is helpful, testing by a licensed medical provider is required for a diagnosis and proper treatment. Typically, these illnesses only require a visit to your primary care provider or local urgent care. However, there are certain situations in which emergency care is necessary, such as:

· Trouble breathing

· Persistent pain or pressure in the chest

· New confusion

· Inability to wake or stay awake

· Pale, gray, or blue-colored skin, lips, or nail beds, depending on skin tone

· Persistent dizziness

· Seizures

· Not urinating

· Severe muscle pain

· Severe weakness or unsteadiness

· Worsening of chronic medical conditions

If you or a loved one experience any of these symptoms, it is important to receive emergency care as soon as possible by calling 911 or visiting your local ER.

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