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Novel Coronavirus and Influenza: How to tell the difference



How can I distinguish between influenza and COVID-19?

It cannot be distinguished without testing. The flu and COVID-19 have similar symptoms, and you may need to be tested to know what makes you miserable.

Body pain, sore throat, fever, cough, shortness of breath, fatigue and headache are common features of these two symptoms.

A difference? People with flu usually feel the most sick in the first week of illness. With COVID-19, people may feel the worst in the second or third week, and they may get sick for a long time.

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Another difference: Compared with the flu, COVID-1

9 is more likely to cause loss of taste or smell. However, not everyone has this symptom, so this is not a reliable way to distinguish viruses.

This leaves testing, and as the northern hemisphere flu season approaches this fall, testing will become even more important. The doctor will need to know the test results to determine the best treatment.

Dr. Daniel Solomon, an infectious disease expert at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston and Harvard Medical School, said that it is also possible to contract both viruses at the same time.

Body aches, sore throat, fever, cough, shortness of breath, tiredness and headache are common symptoms of both.

Body aches, sore throat, fever, cough, shortness of breath, tiredness and headache are common symptoms of both.
(IStock)

He said whether to test for one or two viruses may depend on the available testing methods and the virus that is spreading where you live.

Solomon said: “At present, we have not seen the spread of influenza in the community, so extensive testing for influenza is not recommended.”

Both influenza and coronavirus are spread through droplets on the nose and mouth. Both can spread before people know they are sick. Compared with coronavirus, influenza has a shorter incubation period, which means it may take one to four days to feel unwell after infection, and it may take two to fourteen days from infection to symptoms.

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On average, COVID-19 is more contagious than flu. However, many people with COVID-19 will not spread the virus to anyone, while a few will spread it to others. Solomon said that in COVID-19, these “super spreader events” are more common than influenza.

Preventing the flu starts with the annual flu vaccine against the circulating flu strain. Health officials hope to see a record number of people being vaccinated for flu this year, so the hospital will not have two epidemics at once.

Although there are several drug candidates in the final testing phase, there is no vaccine for COVID-19.

The methods to prevent COVID-19-masks, social distancing, and hand washing-have also slowed the spread of the flu, so health officials hope that continued vigilance can reduce the severity of this year’s flu season.


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