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Similarities And Difference Between Influenza (Flu) And Covid-19
COVID-19 and influenza (flu) both cause contagious respiratory illnesses, but both are caused by different viruses.
The COVID-19 virus is caused by infection with the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, first identified in 2019. A flu virus (influenza virus) is responsible for causing the flu.
As far as we know, COVID-19 spreads more easily than flu. In order to reduce the chances of severe COVID-19 illness and death, the countries needs to maximize the proportion of people who have received their COVID-19 vaccines.
There are some people who can suffer more severe illness from COVID-19 than they can from flu.
When infected with COVID-19, a person may take longer to show symptoms and may remain contagious for longer periods than when infected with the flu.
Symptoms alone cannot tell you whether a person has flu or COVID-19, since they share some of the same characteristics.
To diagnose an illness and determine what it is, specific testing is required. It is easier to get diagnosed and treated for the specific virus you have if a medical professional administers a specific test that detects both flu and COVID-19.
You can reduce your risk of getting very sick by getting treated early for COVID-19 and flu.
It is also possible to detect both flu and COVID-19 together, although this is uncommon.
If a person has both flu and COVID-19 at the same time, they may suffer more severe symptoms. In addition, some individuals with COVID-19 may also suffer from long-term COVID conditions.
Our understanding of COVID-19 and the virus that causes it is expanding every day. In this post, we compare COVID-19 with flu based on the most up-to-date information we can find.
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Signs and Symptoms
The symptoms of COVID-19 and flu can vary in severity, from no symptoms to severe symptoms. These are some of the symptoms that COVID-19 and flu have in common:
- Fever or feeling feverish/having chills
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Fatigue (tiredness)
- Sore throat
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Muscle pain or body aches
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Symptoms of COVID-19 include diarrhea (more common in children with flu, but can occur at any age)
Taste or smell changes or loss, although COVID-19 is more likely to cause this.
The Duration Of Symptoms After Exposure And Infection
- A person can experience symptoms of illness one or more days after becoming infected with COVID-19 or flu.
- A person may be infected with COVID-19 without experiencing any symptoms.
- Flu viruses can also be transmitted without causing symptoms.
- People with COVID-19 may take longer to develop symptoms from the time of infection than people with flu.
- Flu symptoms usually appear between one and four days after infection.
- The symptoms of COVID-19 typically appear two to five days after infection and can last for up to 14 days.
How Long Can Someone Spread the Virus
In contrast to flu, COVID-19 can make a person contagious for a longer period of time.
It takes about one day for people to show symptoms of flu virus infection before they become contagious. People who are symptomatic with flu are believed to spread the virus most frequently.
During the first 3-4 days of flu illness, older children and adults are most contagious. However, some people might remain contagious for a little longer.
It is possible for infants and people with weakened immune systems to remain contagious for even longer periods of time.
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COVID-19 usually starts spreading 2-3 days before symptoms appear, but its infectiousness peaks one day before symptoms appear.
There is also the possibility of people spreading COVID-19 without experiencing any symptoms. A person is considered contagious for about eight days after developing symptoms.
How It Spreads
- It is possible for COVID-19 and influenza to spread between people who are near each other or in close contact. In both cases, viruses are spread by large and small particles expelled by coughing, sneezing, or talking by people with the illness. A person who is nearby may inhale these particles after they land in their mouths or noses. Small particles containing viruses may spread longer distances and cause infections in some circumstances, such as indoor settings with poor ventilation.
- Most transmissions occur through inhalation of small and large droplets. A person can get easily infected by touching another person (to start, shaking hands with someone who is infected), or by touching an objec ort surface contaminated with the virus and then touching their own mouth, nose, or eyes.
- Despite the fact that COVID-19 virus and flu viruses spread similarly, COVID-19 virus is generally more contagious than flu virus. There have also been more super spreading events associated with COVID-19 than with flu. Therefore, the virus that causes COVID-19 can easily spread to a large number of people and continue spreading over time.
- Viruses that cause COVID-19 can be spread by people before they show signs of illness, people with very mild symptoms, and people who never show symptoms (asymptomatic people).
People at Higher Risk for Severe Illness
- There is a possibility of severe illness and complications associated with COVID-19 and flu illnesses.
- A person with certain underlying medical conditions (including infants and children) is at an increased risk (in older adults).
- People who are pregnant
- COVID-19 causes more severe illness in some people.
- Even healthy individuals can suffer severe COVID-19 illnesses that result in hospitalization and death.
- Those who have had COVID-19 may develop post-COVID conditions or multisystem inflammatory syndrome (MIS).
COVID-19 and flu, both can result in complications, including:
- Respiratory failure
- Sepsis (the body’s severe reaction to an infection that causes life-threatening illness)
- Acute respiratory distress syndrome is characterized by fluid in the lungs.
- Cardiac injury (for example, stroke and heart attacks)
- Shock, respiratory failure, kidney failure, multiple organ failure
- Chronic medical conditions (involving the lungs, heart, nervous system, or diabetes) becoming worse
- An inflammation of the heart, brain, or muscles
- The flu or COVID-19 can cause secondary infections (bacterial or fungal infections).
- It takes most people about two weeks to recover from influenza, but some people may require hospitalization because of severe complications.
- Complications such as those listed above can occur. COVID-19 is more likely to cause secondary bacterial infections than influenza.
- Children with influenza are easy targets to experience diarrhea than adults.
- It has been associated with several complications including blood clots in the veins and arteries of the heart, lungs, legs, or brain, Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C) and Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Adults (MIS-A).
- It is possible to develop post-COVID conditions after having COVID-19, even if symptoms were mild.
- Symptoms of post-COVID conditions may appear weeks, months, or years after being infected with the virus that causes COVID-19.
To relieve symptoms and complications associated with COVID-19 or flu, people at higher risk and those who have been hospitalized should receive recommended treatments.
- The FDA has approved prescription influenza antiviral drugs for treating influenza.
- It is vital to note that these antiviral drugs are intended only for the treatment of influenza, not COVID-19.
- When people are hospitalized with flu or show symptoms of flu and are at a higher risk of complications, they should be treated with antiviral drugs as soon as possible.
- As new evidence on treatment options emerges, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) makes regular revisions to its guidance on treating COVID-19.
- It includes antiviral treatment for non-hospitalized people at increased risk for severe COVID-19 as well as antiviral treatment for those hospitalized with severe COVID-19.
- When people experience their first symptoms of severe COVID-19, they should seek treatment as soon as possible.
In Case Of COVID-19 Illness, What Should You Do?
FDA has approved or authorized vaccines for COVID-19 and flu for emergency use (EUA).
To protect against the four flu viruses expected to circulate each year, there are multiple FDA-licensed influenza vaccines produced every year.
A number of COVID-19 vaccines are authorized or approved for use to help prevent COVID-19. Vaccination and booster recommendations for COVID-19 are available.
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