COVID-19 vs. the flu Original

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Flu season is here, but COVID-19 is still in KELOLAND as well.

If you aren’t feeling well, how can you tell if you have the flu or the new coronavirus?

Here are the symptoms for each illness, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

Fever or chills
Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
Muscle or body aches
New loss of taste or smell
Sore throat
Congestion or runny nose
Nausea or vomiting
Fever or chills
Sore throat
Runny or stuffy nose
Muscle or body aches
Some vomiting and diarrhea (more common in children)

You probably noticed that the only differences between the new coronavirus symptoms and the flu are shortness of breath or difficulty breathing and a new loss of taste or smell. Though, there is a difference for emergency warning signs of the flu.

As far as when you are contagious that varies for each illness. Both COVID-19 and the flu can be spread at least one day before symptoms start. The CDC’s website states that people who have the flu are contagious the day before they show symptoms and the initial three to four days of their illness, but they could remain contagious for seven days.

People with COVID-19 can be contagious longer than people who have the flu.

The CDC says it is possible to have the flu and COVID-19 at the same time. The differences between the two illnesses may not be visible to the eye, though.

If a person has the flu, they typically develop symptoms between one and four days after infection. On the other hand, if someone has COVID-19, it could take longer than four days to develop symptoms. According to the CDC, someone with COVID-19 can develop symptoms five days after being infected but symptoms could appear as early as two days. Also, the person could develop symptoms as late as 14 days after they’re infected.

There is a test that can check for both types of the flu and the new coronavirus. Sanford Health has received approval to use this test.

To help determine if you have COVID-19, the CDC has developed a Coronavirus Self-Checker. The tool is online and is adaptable for computers, tablets and smartphones.

Sanford Infectious Disease Physician Dr. Susan Hoover believes no one could be confident enough to tell from symptoms whether they had COVID-19 or the flu. She said, as of now, to determine what illness is it, that person would need to be tested.

“As the season gets started, we’re going to lean more towards testing for both, if a person has symptoms and signs that could be either one. As the flu season gets going and we understand better whether it’s a heavy or a light flu season, that practice might change. But, I think starting out, we’re going to be testing for both so we can get an understanding of how much influenza is in our community,” Hoover said.

Hoover added that quarantining if you’ve been exposed to the flu would be a positive action as well.

“The good thing about that would be if you know it’s influenza, it’s incubation period is shorter, so you would not be quarantining for as long as if you’d been exposed to a case of COVID-19,” Hoover said.

One way to combat the flu and help determine what illness you would be sick with is to get your flu vaccination.

“It’s always important, but now it’s very important because we know that the flu season is coming. Unlike, COVID-19 its season is predictable, and we do have the vaccine available. And, it would add an extra level of protection against being in that situation where you’re starting to get sick and you don’t know which one you have,” Hoover said.

According to the CDC, COVID-19 has killed more Americans than the 2018-2019 influenza season. Hoover said that may vary from season to season, but right now in South Dakota COVID-19 is posing a greater risk.

“We have more COVID-19 here in South Dakota, today than we have had all along. We’re all getting tired of it, but it is as bad and worse as its ever been. So, I want to encourage everybody stay out of crowds, wear your mask, wash your hands,” Hoover said.

Masks can protect others from more than just the new coronavirus, according to Hoover.

“Masks can be a two for one deal and help prevent both the flu and COVID-19,” Hoover said.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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