It is officially flu season, the time of year when temperatures start to plummet, and cold weather gives rise to viral infections such as influenza. Flu season in the United States has always been deadly. The CDC estimates that somewhere around 12,000 to 61,000 people lose their lives from the flu each year. This year, it poses an even more significant threat as we are in the midst of a worldwide pandemic that has killed more than 239,000 people in the US since January. The flu and coronavirus symptoms often overlap. This makes it difficult for people to identify the illness they are experiencing correctly.
What are the Similarities Between COVID-19 and Influenza?
COVID -19 and influenza exhibit similar pathology. Both can cause a variety of respiratory illnesses ranging from asymptomatic to mild to severe. Both diseases are transmitted through contact and airborne droplets. Therefore, the same public safety and health procedures, like hand hygiene, community awareness, and the wearing of masks, are essential to stop the infection.
What are the Differences Between COVID-19 And Influenza?
Transmission is a chief differentiator between the two infections. Influenza has a briefer incubation period on average (the time between infection and onset of symptoms) as well as a shorter serial interval period (the time between consecutive cases) than COVID -19. The serial interval for COVID -19 has approximately been 5 to 6 days, while that for the influenza is three days. This means that flu symptoms appear sooner than the coronavirus.
The CDC has confirmed that the pathogens that cause COVID-19 are more transmittable than seasonal flu, and recent research shows that it may be “airborne.” This is one of the reasons why many government and health representatives strongly advise the use of double-layered, tight-fitting masks like NewRain’s KN95’s in public places where it is difficult or impossible to maintain a distance of at least six feet. You should also frequently wash your hands or use a sanitizer like NewRain’s hand sanitizers.
The most significant risk of getting the flu is for children, pregnant women, the elderly, and people with underlying health conditions. For COVID -19, we now assume that the risk of more severe infections is increased for the elderly and those with underlying medical conditions like obesity, diabetes, and high blood pressure.
Symptoms of COVID-19 and Influenza
Here are the commonly observed symptoms of influenza and COVID-19.
Symptoms of the Flu
Influenza usually develops all of a sudden. Symptoms include a persistent cough, sore throat, nasal congestion, runny nose, body aches, headache, and exhaustion.
Symptoms of COVID -19
Common symptoms of the coronavirus include fever and chills, cough, shortness of breath and difficulty breathing, tiredness, muscle and body pains, headache, loss of taste and smell, sore throat, nausea, and vomiting. As the symptoms of winter flu and COVID -19 overlap, only the tests can confirm the correct diagnosis.
How to Protect Yourself from Flu This Season?
The significant difference between COVID -19 and the flu is that while there is a vaccine against the flu, there is not yet a vaccine against coronavirus. The seasonal flu shot vaccine is created after identifying the most common influenza virus strains in the forthcoming influenza season. The shot causes the body to produce antibodies to combat the virus, and it takes about a couple of weeks for antibodies to be produced after the vaccine is given. The body’s immunity weakens over time, and the type of flu the vaccine aims to protect against changes from year to year, so it is essential to get vaccinated every year.
The vaccine for seasonal flu is not perfect, and there is no assurance that you will not get sick. Individuals with certain chronic illnesses, and the elderly may have a weakened immune system. Studies have revealed that people who catch the flu, even if they have been vaccinated, experience less severe sickness than those who have not been vaccinated. The flu vaccine has been proven to prevent lots of flu-related illnesses and medical visits each year and prevent thousands of hospitalizations.
Seeing as there is currently no vaccine for coronavirus, avoiding being exposed install the way to keep yourself safe from getting infected. Donning masks and observing social distancing is highly recommended by medical professionals.
As flu season progresses, emergency departments, clinics, and doctor’s offices could become more complex and busier in the coming weeks if the number of COVID-19 infections continues to increase daily. Getting the flu shot this year maybe even more crucial than in previous years. By reducing the risk of serious illness, you can reduce the medical care system load and get health care resources to individuals who need them.