The cold weather winter months bring means a rise in flu cases. The flu and the coronavirus share several similar symptoms, which lead to confusion between the two. Many people who get the flu naturally worry that they have the virus. With winter creeping in, let’s learn the similarities and differences between the diseases to prevent unnecessary anxiety.
The flu usually develops with the contraction of influenza A and B viruses. These viruses cause outbreaks, particularly in the winter months. Both, the influenza viruses and coronavirus, transmit through droplets. "Droplets carrying viruses are released into the air via sneezing, coughing or even speaking. When someone else inhales these viral droplets or touches a surface contaminated with them, they contract the disease," Infectious Diseases Specialist Dr. Elif Hakko explained.
Both diseases can be contracted without developing any symptoms. While there is no symptom present, it is still possible to infect other people, Dr. Hakko warned. "Both of the diseases can be spread even when no symptoms are present. The coronavirus is even more infectious than influenza," she said. "It is possible, however unlikely, to contract both coronavirus and the flu at the same time."
The flu and the coronavirus usually cause mild symptoms, though they can also lead to severe illnesses. Fever, cough, shortness of breath, weakness, sore throat, joint pains, runny nose and headaches are the common symptoms of both viruses, Dr. Hakko said. "Different from the flu, the coronavirus also causes symptoms like diarrhea, nausea and vomiting. Some patients experience loss of smell and taste, and sometimes loss of concentration." She explained: "If these symptoms appear, you should go to a health center and get tested for the coronavirus."
Hakko also pointed out that if any severe complaints like chest pain, shortness of breath, dizziness and severe headache arise, the patient should consult an emergency service immediately.
Generally, flu symptoms pass after seven days, while the coronavirus takes 10 days – sometimes even more. During this time, it is important to self-isolate, according to Hakko. "If you are infected, you should stay at home and try to isolate even from your family until you are healthy again. To counter both diseases, consume plenty of fluids and use antifever medicine," she said. She added that it is essential to take precautions to protect yourself and to prevent the spread of both diseases. The same rules apply for both viruses when it comes to precautions:
• Wear a mask that covers your nose and chin.
• Wash your hands frequently.
• Social distance at all times, keep at least 4 feet (1.2 meters) between you and other people.
• Don't touch your mouth, face, eyes or nose.
• Keep away from crowded locations and sick people as much as possible.
• Regularly sanitize surfaces that you touch frequently.
• Don't cough or sneeze into your hand. Use the inside of your arm or a napkin.
• If you are ill, stay home.