Are you experiencing a cough, runny nose, loss of smell or taste? Could it be the flu or COVID-19?
Flu season is expected to spike in November and medical experts say it could be unlike any other because of COVID-19. Certified Family Nurse Practitioner Anne Musgrove said, “It’s going to be an interesting flu season. That’s the thought among most of us. We just really don’t know what to expect. Like I said before I think masking and hand sanitizing and the social distancing that we have adapted as a society might help keep the spread of flu a little bit lower. We might actually see a record low flu season. Clinically though it will be hard to distinguish between flu and COVID.”
Musgrove says the flu and COVID-19 share many of the same symptoms. “The two can present very similarly which is very tricky for healthcare providers. One of the hallmarks of COVID-19 is loss of smell or taste. We see that in a lot of our patients who present with COVID. If you lose your smell or taste, there is a high index of suspicion that it is a COVID case. It can present in various way so the only way to really know is to get tested.”
The CDC estimates the flu was associated with more than 35 million illnesses and 34,200 deaths during the 2018-2019 flu season.
While the flu vaccine will not keep you from getting COVID-19, medical professionals say it will decrease your risk of co-infection. “We know that people can be co-infected. In the early days of COVID, we hoped we would not see a lot of co-infection. We don’t really know because it is not flu season yet how common it will be, but we have seen reports coming out of other countries that people have been co-infected with both influenza and COVID. We’re really encouraging people to get their flu shot this year.”