How to Differentiate between Coronavirus & the Common Flu

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March 27, 2020 | Farah Jassawalla

How to Differentiate between Coronavirus & the Common Flu

Studies suggest that most patients admitted to hospitals around the globe with coronavirus infection developed low/high-grade fever, a number of them started having a cough, and only a small amount of people showed signs of muscle aches and pains. Seasonal flu symptoms don't necessarily include coughing or shortness of breath unless there is some antecedent illness like asthma.

However, rushing to the hospital may not be the answer during the COVID-19 pandemic. CDC is advising physicians to convert to telemedicine or virtual assistance to contain the spread of coronavirus infection. This is also ideal for patients with underlying complicated health conditions since they are more at risk of developing the disease. Therefore, whether you’re a doctor, concerned about the wellbeing of your patients or an individual, sitting in isolation during the coronavirus outbreak, take a look at Cura4U.

A few similarities and differences between the novel coronavirus and common flu are discussed below to help you have a finer understanding of what to expect in these trying times.

  • If you or anyone around you start having itchy, watery eyes, and a runny nose, this may be an indication of an allergy or some common cold. Most allergies affect eyes and nose and are limited to just that. Don't freak out. Stay calm.
  • The novel coronavirus affects the whole body, and the symptoms aren't localized. The same is the case with the common flu.
  • There will most probably be a stuffy nose with a sore throat, possible cough and fever, and in case of coronavirus, difficulty in breathing.
  • Seasonal flu mostly affects the upper respiratory tract, but, in some cases, it can turn into severe pneumonia.
  • COVID-19 affects the lower respiratory tract. It can cause serious harm, ending in lung/respiratory failure.
  • If someone is running with fever, but there are no other symptoms, then this may be a cause for alarm.
  • A simple case of flu does not generally include temperature unless there’s some running infection in your system.
  • If anyone has common flu or coronavirus, they may feel extremely sluggish and slow. So much so that they may want to stay in bed, not finding the energy to get up. Every muscle in the body and all the joints will ache.
  • Allergies also make a person feel tired and weary, but they pass away after some time. That won't be the case in coronavirus infection.
  • With the normal flu, the symptoms are generally mild, and it passes away after some days. Proper care and rest are essential for faster healing and recovery.
  • If someone already has low immunity and is around or above 60, the symptoms may be more severe, and the healing will also be slow. Keep a check on such patients to avoid further complications. Telemedicine provides easier access to caring for patients.
  • Coronavirus infection can become fatal if the patient is unable to breathe properly. This can be a sign of acute pneumonia or lung failure. Urgent healthcare attention is required in such cases.
  • Since there is no medication or vaccination available for the coronavirus, patients should be advised bed rest with proper fluid intake. Drinking broths and soups can bring up immunity. Moreover, a simple aspirin or paracetamol can be prescribed for fever. With telemedicine, all of this becomes practically possible without hospital admissions. As a physician, you can stay updated and engaged with patients on a personal level as well. This is valuable in terms of patient satisfaction.
  • Heart patients, diabetics, chronic asthma patients, and cancer patients are more at risk of getting affected by the novel coronavirus. Pregnant women should stay quarantined as well, getting out only when necessary.
  • Moreover, anyone can have the infection if they’ve been traveling recently, especially from areas with a high number of infected cases.
  • The people living in affected areas should opt for self-isolation. Preventive measures are still the best bet against COVID-19.
  • The influenza virus is responsible for 30,000 deaths in the US during the past few months. If the diagnosis comes negative in a person showing coronavirus related signs and symptoms, it doesn’t mean that there’s no danger.

Precautions are extremely valuable in these trying times. The widespread of the coronavirus can only be contained through isolation. Instead of asking patients to rush to emergencies in a frenzy, physicians are now advising telemedicine. You can find some valuable support for healthcare professionals as well as patients across the US through smart digital services, which include the facilities of doctor’s appointments as well as lab tests/imaging. Stay indoors and get reliable virtual care from the comfort of your homes to stay safe during coronavirus outbreak.

Farah Jassawalla

Farah Jassawalla is a graduate of the Lahore School of Economics. She is also a writer, and a healthcare enthusiast, having closely observed case studies while working with Lahore's thriving general physicians at their clinics.

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