It’s that time of the year again when you are sneezing, coughing, running a fever, having sore throats, and developing allergies.
Simply put, the flu season (or Influenza) is back in the swing. This time, amidst the COVID-induced pandemic, staying safe is increasingly important.
Generally, the onset of flu is around October, and slowly peaks during the last leg of the year. Reportedly, more than 35 million people in the US alone caught the flu last year that led to 34000 fatal cases. Children, pregnant women, and elderly people are generally the most vulnerable lot.
What makes it even more challenging this time is matching symptoms of flu and COVID. However, this could be a double-edged sword and can pull some advantages to help fight the flu.
With people embracing the new normal of wearing masks in public and using sanitizers at regular intervals, the chances of infection can be significantly mitigated.
In this post, we take a closer look at knowing the difference between flu and COVID induced symptoms, and how one can better their immunity to avoid picking germs this season.
Fighting the Twindemic – Knowing The Basics
That’s right! “Twindemic”.
With the flu and COVID pandemic coinciding around the same time, the twindemic is the go-to-neo urban metaphrase coined lately.
However, the fancy terminology is not the point. The point is knowing the basics to determine whether you are infected by the flu or COVID.
With the global healthcare system already overwhelmed by the epidemic, the overlapping symptoms for both the conditions make way for serious bafflement. The doctors and other medical professionals are having a hard time determining the difference when early cases of infection are being reported.
Luckily, CDC has intervened citing two new symptoms differentiating between flu and COVID-induced conditions. They are shortness of breath and loss of smell. These two symptoms are being increasingly looked at to segregate COVID cases from influenza.
Thus, anyone with a fever, body aches, and fatigue accompanied by gastrointestinal issues like diarrhea can be looked at as a case of influenza.
On the other hand, when you have all those symptoms along with shortness of breath and loss of smell, it does enhance the chance of COVID infection.
A study of more than 400 people with moderate to severe conditions of COVID reportedly turned anosmic (loss of smell). Further, another report from the National Library of Medicine depicted more than fifty percent of COVID patients suffering from dyspnea (shortness of breath) in just a week after being infected. In the majority of cases, the patients were subjected to a ventilator or additional oxygen support system.
Despite such findings, one cannot wholly rely on these two symptoms alone to rule out a COVID from the flu. In all cases, seeking immediate medical attention is always a wise call.
Flu Shots and Antiviral Drugs
Research studies suggest how flu shots have been effective in reducing influenza cases by at least forty to sixty percent. Typically, a single flu shot offers resistance against three to four kinds of viruses circulating a particular season.
In the wake of the COVID pandemic, close to 200 million vaccines will be provided in the US by 2021 which is a sharp rise compared to last year’s 175 million vaccines. Anyone who’s above six months of age is advised to get a flu shot in advance.
Besides flu shots, antiviral drugs have also depicted their efficacy in fighting the known symptoms of influenza. All those affected by the flu and not showing any severe symptoms are advised to take rest, increase their fluid intake, munch on fruits and veggies, and resort to over-the-counter medications. However, for other severe or complicated influenza cases, the following antiviral drugs are approved by the FDA:
- Baloxavir Marboxil
However, such antiviral drugs, under no circumstances, should be prescribed as an alternative to flu shots or vaccines.
Boosting Immunity and Practicing Good Hygiene
Come flu or COVID, enhancing your body immunity level is inarguably the best defense mechanism.
As long as you have a solid immune system, it will continue to battle the germs and viruses entering your body and keep you healthy. However, at times certain underlying medical conditions like asthma or diabetes can significantly lower immunity. Thus, people with severe medical conditions are more prone to fall sick during the flu season.
By indulging in a healthy diet, regular exercise, and adequate rest, one can boost their immunity level. It is recommended that you include green veggies and seasonal fruits in your daily diet.
Plus, one should exercise regularly and consume low-calorie food. The intake of flavonoids containing antioxidants found in fruits like blueberries is known to lower the chance of respiratory infections.
Taking supplements can also aid the process of boosting immunity. Especially for flu leading to respiratory difficulties, Vitamin D supplements are known to work great. Also, this is perhaps the best time to cut down on your smoking and drinking. Research studies show how heavy smokers and drinkers are at a greater risk of catching the flu as tobacco and alcohol play foul with your immunity level.
Lastly, wearing masks when going out, frequent use of hand sanitizers, and maintaining general cleanliness is something that you need to keep doing to prevent picking up germs at random.
While the world awaits a commercially available COVID vaccine, you shouldn’t take the recurring flu lightly. Despite the lack of a surefire way to prevent infection, knowing the symptoms right, getting a flu shot, taking proper medication, and maintaining good hygiene can certainly help reverse the odds.