Is it the flu or Covid-19?
Flu season officially begins October 1 and with Covid still lingering it could make for a challenging fall and winter for some, especially when it comes to trying to figure out if it is Covid-19 or the flu. Below are some commonly asked questions when it comes to the upcoming flu season and how to best protect yourself.
What is different this year versus last year?
The biggest difference between last year and this year are two things: the Delta variant, which is spreading at a far more rapid pace than the original Covid-19 variants, and most of the country is no longer under a mask mandate. The lack of masks will mean that more particles carrying the virus or flu will be present in the air and on surfaces.
What are the symptoms of flu and how do they compare to Covid-19?
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) both COVID-19 and flu can have varying degrees of signs and symptoms, ranging from no symptoms (asymptomatic) to severe symptoms.
Common symptoms that COVID-19 and flu share include:
- Fever or feeling feverish/having chills
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Fatigue (tiredness)
- Sore throat
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Muscle pain or body aches
- Vomiting and diarrhea
- Change in or loss of taste or smell, although this is more frequent with COVID-19.
Some people have reported that the Delta variant can feel more like a flu or cold, compared to the earlier Covid-19 variants where the tell-tale signs were lost taste or smell. The best thing to do if you are not feeling well is to get tested.
How can I tell if it is just the flu?
There is no way to really tell if you just have the flu unless you get tested. By getting tested you will be able to determine if you need to quarantine and for how long. This is incredibly important with the Delta variant because an infected person can spread it to eight people on average. The earlier variants could spread, on average, to three to four people thus making the Delta variant more contagious.
Where can I get tested for Covid-19?
How can I best protect myself?
Thankfully, we have vaccines for both Covid-19 and the flu. You can find a free Covid-19 vaccine here. For your yearly flu shot, you can visit a local pharmacy, most urgent cares or your doctor.
Masking up, especially indoors can also provide you a layer of protection, along with social distancing, washing your hands and not touching your face.