Influenza is a viral infection that attacks your respiratory system your nose, throat, and lungs.
New York. Ed Hosseinipour, Senior Clinical Pharmacist. Influenza is commonly called the flu, but it’s not the same as stomach “flu” viruses that cause diarrhea and vomiting.
Influenza and its complications can be deadly. People at higher risk of developing flu complications include: Young children under age 5, and especially those under 6 months, adults older than age 65, residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities, pregnant women and women up to two weeks after giving birth, people with weakened immune systems, people who have chronic illnesses, such as asthma, heart disease, kidney disease, liver disease and diabetes, people who are very obese, with a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or higher
At first, the flu may seem like a common cold with a runny nose, sneezing and sore throat. But colds usually develop slowly, whereas the flu tends to come on suddenly. And although a cold can be a bother, you usually feel much worse with the flu.
Common signs and symptoms of the flu include: Fever, Aching muscles, Chills and sweats, Headache, Dry, persistent cough, Shortness of breath, Tiredness and weakness
Runny or stuffy nose, Sore throat, Eye pain, Vomiting, and diarrhea, but this is more common in children than adults
How do you know if you may have the flu? Your respiratory illness might be flu if you have fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills and/or fatigue. Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children. People may be sick with flu and have respiratory symptoms without a fever.
Flu viruses usually cause the most illness during the colder months of the year. However, influenza can also occur outside of the typical flu season.
In addition, other viruses can also cause respiratory illness similar to flu. So, it is impossible to tell for sure if you have flu based on symptoms alone. If your doctor needs to know for sure whether you are sick with flu, there are laboratory tests that can be done.
What’s the difference between COVID-19 and the flu?
COVID-19 and the flu have several differences. COVID-19 and the flu are caused by different viruses. COVID-19 is caused by a new coronavirus called SARS-CoV-2, while influenza is caused by influenza A and B viruses.
Symptoms of COVID-19 and the flu appear at different times and have some differences. With COVID-19, you may experience loss of taste or smell. COVID-19 symptoms generally appear two to 14 days after exposure. Flu symptoms usually appear about one to four days after exposure.
COVID-19 appears to be more contagious and to spread more quickly than the flu. Severe illness such as lung injury may be more frequent with COVID-19 than with influenza. The mortality rate also appears to be higher with COVID-19 than the flu.
COVID-19 can cause different complications from the flu, such as blood clots and multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children.
Another difference is that the flu can be treated with antiviral drugs. No antiviral drugs are currently approved to treat COVID-19. Researchers are evaluating many drugs and treatments for COVID-19. Some drugs may help reduce the severity of COVID-19.
You can get an annual flu vaccine to help reduce your risk of the flu. The flu vaccine can also reduce the severity of the flu and the risk of serious complications.
Each year’s flu vaccine provides protection from the three or four influenza viruses that are expected to be the most common during that year’s flu season. The vaccine can be given as a shot (injection) or as a nasal spray.
The flu vaccine doesn’t protect you from getting COVID-19. Research also shows that getting the flu vaccine does not make you more likely to get COVID-19 or other respiratory infections.
No vaccine is currently available for the virus that causes COVID-19. But researchers are working to develop vaccines to prevent COVID-19.
Is there a test that can detect both flu and COVID-19?
Yes. CDC has developed a test that will check for A and B type seasonal flu viruses and SARS CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. This test will be used by U.S. public health laboratories.
Testing for these viruses at the same time will give public health officials important information about how flu and COVID-19 are spreading and what prevention steps should be taken.
The test will also help public health laboratories save time and testing materials, and to possibly return test results faster.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has given CDC Emergency Use Authorization for this new test. Initial test kits were sent to public health laboratories in early August 2020. CDC will continue to manufacture and distribute these kits.
Baron Specialty Pharmacy can assist you in recommending a test or perform an Antibody test for Covid-19 at our location, please contact our staff for details and appointments.
Controlling the spread of infection:
The influenza vaccine isn’t 100% effective, so it’s also important to take several measures to reduce the spread of infection, including:
- Wash your hands. Washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds is an effective way to prevent many common infections. Or use alcohol-based hand sanitizers if soap and water aren’t available.
- Avoid touching your face. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
- Cover your coughs and sneezes. Cough or sneeze into a tissue or your elbow. Then wash your hands.
- Clean surfaces. Regularly clean often-touched surfaces to prevent spread of infection from touching a surface with the virus on it and then your face.
- Avoid crowds. The flu spreads easily wherever people gather — in child care centers, schools, office buildings, auditoriums and public transportation. By avoiding crowds during peak flu season, you reduce your chances of infection.
Also avoid anyone who is sick. And if you’re sick, stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone so that you lessen your chance of infecting others.
During the COVID-19 pandemic: both COVID-19 and the flu may be spreading at the same time. Your local health department and the CDC may suggest other precautions to reduce your risk of COVID-19 or the flu. For example, you may need to practice social distancing (physical distancing) and stay at least 6 feet (2 meters) from others outside your household. You may also need to wear a cloth face mask when around people outside your household.
Useful Tips to Ease Flu Symptoms Stay home and get plenty of rest, drink plenty of fluids, Treat aches and fever, Take care of your cough, Sit in a steamy bathroom, Use a humidifier, Boost your Immune system with vitamins
Treatment of Flu:
There are prescription medications called “antiviral drugs” that can be used to treat flu illness. Antiviral drugs can make illness milder and shorten the time you are sick. They also can prevent serious flu complications, like pneumonia, when treatment is started early. It’s very important that antiviral drugs be used early to treat people who are very sick with flu.
Prevention of Flu:
- CDC recommends a yearly flu vaccine as the first and most important step in protecting against flu viruses. Getting a flu vaccine during 2020-2021 will be more important than ever.
- Flu vaccines will not prevent COVID-19, but they will reduce the burden of flu illnesses, hospitalizations, and deaths on the health care system and conserve scarce medical resources for the care of people with COVID-19.
- Baron Specialty Pharmacy is in stock with all different types of flu vaccines. Our professional clinical pharmacists are certified to administer flu shots in our private consultation room. No written Prescription is necessary. Most Insurances cover the cost completely, please feel free to walk in any time during business hours to get your flu shot at Baron Specialty Pharmacy.[ENG]