Washington, D.C. (AP), March 26 – This article explains how to recognize regular flu symptoms and how to recognize Chinese coronavirus symptoms.
WHAT DO I HAVE?
Flu, cold and coronavirus often share certain symptoms, but differences in intensity and how they appear
can offer clues to which one is causing the misery. Doctors can test for the flu and get results within a day, but coronavirus testing is still limited by availability in the United States.
Colds are often suspected because adults get about two on average each year, said LeRoy, a family medicine doctor and associate dean at Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio.
“The common cold just starts out with a sore or scratchy throat, cough, runny nose, stuffy nose” and any fever is usually mild, he said.
Flu symptoms are more intense and usually come on suddenly, the Yale New Haven Health System advises. They can include a high fever (over 100.5 degrees), extreme exhaustion, muscle or body aches, a dry cough and chills.
“It really hits you like a bus,” and people may start a day well but feel terrible by afternoon, LeRoy said.
Flu symptoms can include a runny or stuffy nose, headaches and possibly vomiting or diarrhea, though the latter two are more common in children than adults, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says.
Symptoms of COVID-19 may appear more slowly. They usually include fever, a dry cough and noticeable shortness of breath, according to the World Health Organization. A minority of cases develop pneumonia, and the disease is especially worrisome for the elderly and those with other medical problems such as high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes or heart conditions.
One study of hospitalized patients in China found that about half did not have a fever when they were admitted but nearly all developed one.
WHAT TO DO IF YOU’RE SICK
Don’t go straight to your doctor’s office — that just risks making more people sick, officials urge. Call ahead, and ask if you need to be seen and where.
Fever, cough and noticeable shortness of breath — “if you have those three components, especially if it’s associated with some recent travel or someone you know who’s been exposed to COVID-19, those things should prompt you to call for medical attention,” LeRoy said.
“Mildly ill patients should be encouraged to stay home,” the CDC’s Dr. Sue Gerber told doctors on a conference call last week. People having difficulty breathing should seek care, and older people or those with other conditions should contact their doctors early in the course of illness, she said.
To protect yourself, wash your hands well and often, keep them away from your face, and avoid crowds and standing close to people.
There’s one big difference between flu and coronavirus: A vaccine exists to help prevent the flu and it’s not too late to get it. It won’t protect you from catching the coronavirus, but may put you in a better position to fight it.
“You don’t want to have a compromised immune system if you were to encounter coronavirus,” LeRoy said.